White House: Bin Laden statement 'propaganda'
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House dismissed Osama bin Laden's videotaped message condemning the United Nations and its Arab membership as "more propaganda."
On Saturday, the Arabic-language television network Al Jazeera aired a videotape in which bin Laden said Arab leaders in the United Nations "have become unbelievers of the revelation that was given to Muhammad." (Full story)
He called the U.N. an instrument of crime against Muslims and lambasted the organization for the creation of the state of Israel in a 1947 resolution.
Bin Laden described Muslim leaders who work with the U.N. as "hypocrites."
White House spokeswoman Anne Womack said the statement "just shows how isolated bin Laden is from the rest of the world."
Senior U.S. officials said the exiled Saudi millionaire made a "grave error" by taking on the United Nations and insinuating the leaders of Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Iraq are "infidels." In attacking Arab countries, they said, bin Laden has alienated "millions of moderate Muslims."
Officials called bin Laden's statement an act of desperation.
Bin Laden also condemned the U.S.-led bombing campaign in Afghanistan and claimed it was targeting Afghan civilians, an allegation the Pentagon has denied.
He said there has been no substantiated proof of the Afghan people's guilt for what happened in the United States on September 11.
The U.S.-led coalition launched its offensive on October 7 after Afghanistan's ruling Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden and members of his al Qaeda terror network, which is suspected of orchestrating attacks in the United States that killed almost 5,000 people.
U.S. Special Forces Saturday successfully retrieved a soldier who was ill in Afghanistan. A previous attempt rescue attempt Friday ended in a search-and-rescue helicopter's crash landing, military officials said. Four U.S. military personnel suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the crash. (Full story)
With U.S. warplanes bearing down on Taliban front lines, the Northern Alliance said Saturday that it had captured large parts of a district abutting the strategically critical northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif as well as hundreds of Taliban fighters. (Full story)
U.S.-led forces launched an intensive bombing attack on Taliban frontline troops about 12 miles east of Mazar-e Sharif early Saturday. Heavy bombers also unleashed repeated strikes in and around the village of Starqash, about 25 miles north of Kabul, the Afghan capital.
President Bush called the recent spate of anthrax discoveries and infections "a second wave of terrorist attacks upon our country." Bush devoted his weekly radio address Saturday to the anthrax outbreaks, insisting the U.S. government "will solve these crimes ... and punish those responsible." (Full story)
Taliban forces near Kandahar told CNN on Saturday that their morale was high and that the U.S. bombing campaign has helped unite them.
The most serious criminal charges were dropped Saturday against firefighters accused of tangling with police during an angry demonstration the day before at the World Trade Center site. (Full story)
The Pentagon also blamed bad weather for causing the crash of an unmanned U.S. reconnaissance aircraft called a Predator. A Taliban spokesman in Islamabad, Pakistan, said Saturday that Taliban fighters had shot down the plane over the Lagham province in eastern Afghanistan.
French journalist Michel Peyrard has been released by the Taliban after nearly a month under arrest in Afghanistan. (Full story)
The Federal Aviation Administration has banned flights near the Arizona ballpark where the World Series will be held Saturday night, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. The directive prohibits aircraft that are flying according to visual flight rules from being under 18,000 feet within 25 nautical miles of the Phoenix Vortac.
Authorities beefed up security for Sunday's New York City Marathon, including warning participants not to accept water from bystanders and adding computer chips to runners' shoes and number cards.
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