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Statement attributed to bin Laden praises recent attacks

Bush says Yemen, Kuwait attacks related

Bush says Yemen, Kuwait attacks related

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CNN's Mike Boettcher says a letter attributed to Osama bin Laden praises the attacks on a tanker off the Yemen coat and on U.S. Marines (October 14)
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(CNN) -- A statement attributed to Osama bin Laden praises attacks on U.S. Marines in Kuwait and a French supertanker off Yemen and warns of new attacks on Western economic targets.

"We congratulate the Islamic Nation on the bold heroic jihad operations that her children ... the mujahedeen in Yemen against the crusader's oil tanker and in Kuwait against the enemy troops and the American occupation," bin Laden is quoted as saying in the statement.

The letter does not directly claim responsibility for those attacks, but says they were timed to coincide with the October 7 anniversary of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan. It warns there will be no peace "until they take their hands off our Muslim nation and stop their aggression against us and their support to our enemies."

The incidents in Yemen and Kuwait were each a "terrorist attack," President Bush said Monday.

Meanwhile, investigators on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali suspect that Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda are responsible for Saturday night's nightclub bombings that killed more than 180 people. The death toll was expected to rise Monday, as authorities said more than 200 people were missing.

"We are sure al Qaeda is here. The Bali bomb blasts are related to al Qaeda, with the cooperation of local terrorists," Indonesia's defense minister said Monday. (More on the Bali bombings)

Bush said he was awaiting the conclusion of U.S. experts about the Bali bombings, but said, "I think we have to assume it's al Qaeda."

The purported bin Laden statement expresses solidarity with Islamic militants in Indonesia, as well as Kashmir, Afghanistan, the Philippines, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The statement appears on an Internet site which has been associated in the past with al Qaeda. The Qatar-based Arabic language network Al Jazeera said it received a copy of the statement bearing bin Laden's signature. The authenticity of the signature could not be independently verified.

Monday's statement follows an October 6 recording attributed to bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, which threatened fresh attacks against the United States, its economy and its allies. U.S. officials believe the tape was recorded within the previous two months.

Osama bin Laden in a 1998 photo
Osama bin Laden in a 1998 photo

That same day, the French tanker Limburg was set ablaze off Yemen, killing one sailor.

"By hitting the oil tanker in Yemen, the mujahedeen hit the secret line, the provision line and the feeding to the artery of the life of the crusader's nation," the statement said.

"They reminded the enemies of the heaviness of the blood bill and the enormity of losses, that they will pay a high price to the continuation of their aggression on our nation and their plunder to our good and our wealth."

Yemeni officials discounted terrorism at first, but French officials said last week the 332-meter (1,089-foot) ship was damaged in a bombing similar to the one that crippled the destroyer USS Cole in October 2000, killing 17 U.S. sailors.

Two days after the tanker incident, one U.S. Marine was killed and another wounded when gunmen opened fire on them during maneuvers on Failaka Island, off Kuwait City in the Persian Gulf. Kuwaiti officials have said the gunmen have ties to al Qaeda.

The following day, Kuwaiti civilians overtook a military Humvee outside Kuwait City and pointed a weapon at two U.S. service members, who then fired into the civilian vehicle, military sources said.

U.S. officials reported another attack on U.S. military units training with Kuwaiti forces Monday. Gunshots were fired at the troops from two civilian vehicles, but the fire was not returned and there were no injuries reported, a U.S. Embassy spokesman said.

The statement also praises "the foreign converts who are taking their religion and beliefs everywhere" -- a reference to Muslims in Western countries who counterterrorism officials fear could be planning new attacks.

"The free-spirited ones are in the prisons of the unbelievers and tyrants," the statement said.

U.S. officials have arrested numerous American Muslims in the past few months. They include six men accused of forming an al Qaeda-trained cell in the Buffalo, New York, area, and Jose Padilla, an Islamic convert the Justice Department says was plotting to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in an American city.

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