Official: Voice on tape is bin Laden's
Voice warns U.S. allies: 'Just like you kill us, we will kill you'
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. government and coalition officials believe a new audiotaped message broadcast on an Arabic language television station contains the voice of Osama bin Laden.
Coalition intelligence sources with long experience in listening and analyzing bin Laden's voice tell CNN that the voice on the audiotape belongs to al Qaeda leader.
They say there is no indication the tape had been edited in any way, and they think the tape dates from the last two and a half weeks.
The statement praises recent terror attacks and threatens more attacks.
"Yes, it is his voice," a U.S. State Department official said Wednesday morning. "But we don't know yet whether anybody put it together, spliced, or computer-generated" it.
The source told CNN that "it's gonna take a little more time to determine with a certain degree of certainty whether it's fabricated." (More on analyzing tape)
The message, broadcast Tuesday by the Arabic language news network Al-Jazeera based in Qatar, praises terror attacks in Yemen, Kuwait, Bali and Moscow as a response "to how the Muslims have been treated" and warns U.S. allies, "Just like you kill us, we will kill you."
CNN terrorism expert Peter Bergen, one of the few Western journalists ever to meet bin Laden, said he was "98 percent sure" the tape is authentic and said it could indicate "a second phase in the war on terrorism, where we're going to see a lot of attacks on American economic targets."
Bergen said if this tape is authentic, it means the last tape -- in which bin Laden's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri called for attacks on Western economic targets -- is also authentic.
"This is not rhetoric. This is for real," said Bergen. (More from Bergen)
The tape also characterizes the Bush administration as "the biggest murderers of the century."
"Bush, the pharaoh of the century, is killing our children in Iraq and Israel, an American ally, is bombing homes with elderly women and children inside using American planes in Palestine. This is enough for the wise of your leaders to stay away from this band of terror," the statement says.
It is not known when the tape was recorded, but it refers to events as recent as October.
The tape has not convinced the administration that bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, is alive, another official said.
"This does not change the administration's position that, short of having Osama bin Laden in our possession, we do not know if he is dead or alive," said a senior Bush administration official.
The tape also refers to ancient military campaigns. It compares Secretary of State Colin Powell and Vice President Dick Cheney to Holako, a Tatar who invaded Baghdad in the 13th century. It exhorts other countries not to cooperate with the United States.
"And here's Cheney and Powell, killing and destroying many in Baghdad, more than ... Holako, the king of the Tatars," says the voice. "So why are your governments allying themselves with America in attacking us in Afghanistan, especially to mention Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Germany and Australia?"
The speaker refers to the killings of Germans in Tunisia and French in Pakistan in the past year and to the bombing of a French tanker off Yemen, the killings of a U.S. Marine in Kuwait and the seizure of a Moscow theater by Chechen rebels.
Earlier this month a statement on a Web site linked to al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the October 12 bombing of a Bali nightclub that killed more than 180 people. The tape singles out Australia, which lost more of its citizens in the Bali attack than any other nation.
"Australia is the one that we have warned before not to participate in Afghanistan. Not to mention its continued awful chapter in East Timor," the tape says. "They ignored our warning, and they woke up to the sound of explosions in Bali but the government pretended that they were not the target."
The latest tape also warns of more attacks and defends those threatened actions.
"Why is it acceptable for us to live with fear, murder, destruction, displacement, the orphaning of children and the widowing of women but peace, security and happiness should be for you?" the voice asks. "This is not fair. Now is the time to become equals. Just like you kill us, we will kill you."
The source who confirm's the tape has bin Laden's voice is concerned about other implications: "It's disquieting, it makes you wonder where Mullah Omar is."
The message's release coincided with the countdown to a Friday deadline for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to accept the conditions set out in a new U.N. Security Council resolution that will return weapons inspectors to Iraq or face a possible attack by a U.S.-led coalition.
It also was released as security services and police in Europe were on high alert. Coalition intelligence agencies have warned that the threat of a new and massive attack is higher now than at any time since the September 11, 2001, attacks against the United States.