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CIA: Bin Laden tape likely authentic, recent

An audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden aired Sunday on the Arabic network Al-Jazeera.
An audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden aired Sunday on the Arabic network Al-Jazeera.

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Arabic-language TV network Al-Jazeera airs an audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden. CNN's Mike Boettcher reports. (January 5)
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Osama Bin Laden
Al Qaeda
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A new audiotape broadcast on the Arabic-language television network Al-Jazeera likely featured the voice of Osama bin Laden and was recorded recently, a CIA spokesman said Monday.

On the tape, the speaker described the U.S. occupation of Iraq as the beginning of an occupation of Persian Gulf states for their oil and makes other references to events in the last few months.

Al-Jazeera broadcast the tape Sunday.

A CIA official said a technical analysis of the audiotape compared it to samples known to be of bin Laden's voice and showed that "it is likely him."

Reacting to the CIA's analysis, a senior Bush administration official said, "It is another reminder. There has been a lot of progress, but the war on terror continues."

The voice on the tape called on Muslims to overthrow regimes in the Middle East that are working with the United States or participating in peace efforts with Israel.

The speaker referred to other recent events such as the December 1 launching of an unofficial peace plan by Israelis and Palestinians in Geneva, Switzerland, and the November 8 suicide bombing of a residential compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The bombing killed 17 people, most of them Arabs. A Saudi official said the blast had the earmarks of bin Laden's terrorist network.

"My message to you today is in reference to stressing the importance of the continuation of Jihad to fend off the conspiracies that have been and are still being plotted against our nation," the speaker on the tape said.

"Especially that now some of those conspiracies have become clear by way of the occupation of Baghdad by the crusaders and those heretics that are supporting them under the pretext of WMD [weapons of mass destruction]."

Different beginning

Unlike previous tapes attributed to the al Qaeda leader, the latest one began with the speaker stating that he is bin Laden.

He called on Muslims to form a council to run the Middle East and lead a jihad against governments in the region.

The voice said that "it is imperative that those governments have to be brought down," because in working with the "infidels" they "shed the blood of their brothers and sisters."

Persian Gulf leaders, the speaker said, are not capable of defending the Islamic nation. "There is no dialogue except with weapons," he said.

The speaker said the U.S.-led war in Iraq was part of a "religious and economic war" to control the Arab world. "Today, Baghdad; tomorrow, Riyadh," he said.

In the first two of three segments on the audiotape, the speaker accused Americans of seeking to change the "beliefs, values and curricula of the Muslims so that they become more tolerant as they claim."

"Clearly put this is an economical and religious war. The occupation of Iraq is but an episode in the series of the Zionist and crusaders' campaign," he said. "Then will come the total occupation of the rest of the countries of the Gulf in preparation to spread hegemony and control over the whole world.

"The Gulf and its countries is but the key to control the world in the view of the super powers due to the huge oil reserves."

Citing the Geneva initiative and the "road map" for Middle East peace backed by the United Nations, European Union, Russia and United States, the tape called on Muslims to fight all efforts at achieving peace with Israel.

"If you don't take them on in Jerusalem, they'll take your two holy sites," the speaker said, referring to Mecca and Medina.

The previous tape likely containing bin Laden's voice aired October 18, U.S. officials said. The officials said references on that tape indicated it had been recorded at some point during the previous three months.

A senior U.S. official said the recent decision to put the nation on heightened terror alert was based on intelligence showing a risk "for the holidays and beyond."

"We are now into 'beyond,' " the official said.

Administration officials decline to say how much longer they intend to keep the nation at alert level orange, the second highest point on the color-coded system. Some sources said information suggests a heightened level of risk for some weeks to come.

CNN's David Ensor and Dana Bash contributed to this report.

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