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Purported bin Laden tape denounces West's response to Hamas

Message calls for supporters to fight peacekeepers in Sudan
The speaker, believed to be Osama bin Laden, called on Muslims to "prepare for a long war" in Sudan.


Osama Bin Laden

(CNN) -- A newly broadcast audiotape believed to be from Osama bin Laden slams the West for cutting off funds to the Palestinian Hamas-led government and calls on al Qaeda followers to fight a proposed international force in Sudan.

In the tape, aired Sunday in part on Arabic-language TV network Al-Jazeera, the speaker repeatedly blasts a "crusader-Zionist war" against Islam, citing other activities in Chechnya and Somalia.

Al-Jazeera, which is based in Qatar, said the new tape is from bin Laden. And White House spokesman Scott McClellan said U.S. officials believe it is bin Laden's voice. (Watch new anger at U.S. citizens from the taped speaker -- 2:50)

"The intelligence community has informed the president that they believe this is authentic," he said.

"The al Qaeda leadership is on the run and under a lot of pressure," he said. "We are advancing, they are on the run, and we won't let up. We will prevail and it's important to use all tools at our disposal." (CNN analyst Peter Bergen: Bin Laden wants to show he's still influential -- 5:21)

On the tape, bin Laden says "the opposition to the Hamas government is proof of the crusade against Muslims."

Bin Laden and other al Qaeda figures use the term "crusaders" to refer to Christians.

He also says on the new tape that any such war "is the joint responsibility of the people and the government."

Responding to the tape, Hamas spokesman Sam Abu Zuhri said Hamas has "a different ideology" than that of al Qaeda.

The remarks about the halting of funds suggest the tape is relatively recent. The United States and some other Western nations have officially stopped contributions to the Palestinian government since Hamas assumed power March 30. Humanitarian aid is instead donated through nongovernmental organizations.

The militant wing of Hamas has carried out numerous terrorist attacks in recent years, killing many civilians. Israel and the U.S. State Department consider Hamas a terrorist organization, though it also operates an extensive social services network in the territories.

The United States and European Union have called on the Hamas-led government to end terrorist attacks and recognize Israel's right to exist.

Tape calls for Sudan war

On the tape, bin Laden slammed U.S. and British efforts and their past actions in Sudan, where bin Laden lived in the mid-1990s before being expelled by the Sudanese government.

"I call on the mujahedeen [Islamic fighters] and their supporters, especially in Sudan and the Arabian peninsula, to prepare for a long war against the crusaders and plunderers in western Sudan. Our goal is not defending the Khartoum government but [to] defend Islam, its land and its people," the speaker said.

A civil war has destroyed much of western Sudan and left hundreds of thousands dead. Arab militias have carried out torture, widespread killings and rapes, particularly in the nation's Darfur region.

The United States and many human rights groups have declared a "genocide" in the region, although the United Nations stopped short of that term. Sudan denies a genocide and widespread accusations that the militias have government backing.

A U.N. peacekeeping force is set to take over efforts from the African Union in September.

Al-Jazeera reported that on the tape, bin Laden also refers to the controversy over cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, saying, "I am urging Muslims to boycott the products of Western countries, including the United States, which backed Denmark" after the cartoons were published by a Danish newspaper.

This section of the tape was not played on Al-Jazeera, however.

No recent appearances on video

Unlike recent messages, the tape attributed to bin Laden says he holds American and Western citizens -- not just their governments -- responsible for conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Any war is the joint responsibility of the people and the government," the tape says.

The most recent previous audiotape attributed to bin Laden was heard in January. In it, the speaker says plans for terror attacks are under way -- and also offers a "long-term truce."

"The war against America and its allies will not be confined to Iraq," the voice on the January tape says, adding that "Iraq has become a magnet for attracting and training talented fighters." (Full story)

"It's only a matter of time," the voice says, referring to attacks. "They are in the planning stages, and you will see them in the heart of your land as soon as the planning is complete."

The last videotaped message from bin Laden was seen just before the U.S. presidential election in 2004. That was his first known videotaped message in three years.

Analysts have speculated on the reasons that only audiotapes have been released since then. Bin Laden has been rumored to have faced health troubles or to have been wounded in an attack, although nothing conclusive has been found.

He is believed to be hiding somewhere in the mountainous region of the Pakistani-Afghan border. The United States has posted a $25 million reward for his capture.

Several Democratic U.S. lawmakers on Sunday pointed to the tape as a sign that the Bush administration has wasted efforts in Iraq instead of adequately cracking down on al Qaeda. (Full story)

CNN's Caroline Faraj, Octavia Nasr, Nic Robertson and Henry Schuster contributed to this report.

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