CAIRO, Egypt — Osama bin Laden urged Muslims to launch a jihad against Israel, seeking to harness anger over the Gaza offensive with a new message posted on the Internet on Wednesday.
The al-Qaida chief vowed to open “new fronts” against the U.S. and its allies beyond Iraq and Afghanistan and also criticized Arab leaders, accusing most of them of being allies of the U.S. and Israel.
The White House dismissed the call to jihad, saying it reflects bin Laden’s isolation and shows he is trying to remain relevant at a time when his ideology and mission are being challenged.
Bin Laden spoke in a 22-minute audiotape posted on Islamic militant Web sites where al-Qaida usually issues its messages. The 51-year-old al-Qaida leader has been in hiding since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, believed to be living somewhere along the lawless Pakistan-Afghan border.
It was bin Laden’s first tape since May and came nearly three weeks after Israel launched the offensive against Hamas that Gaza medical officials say has killed more than 1,000 Palestinians.
He said President-elect Barack Obama has received a “heavy inheritance” from George W. Bush _ two wars and “the collapse of the economy.” He predicted that burden will render the U.S. unable to sustain a long fight against the mujahedeen, or holy warriors.
There is “only one strong way to bring the return of Al-Aqsa and Palestine, and that is jihad in the path of God,” Bin Laden said, referring to the revered Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. “The duty is to urge people to jihad and to enlist the youth into jihad brigades.”
He also appealed for donations to finance the fight, saying the “tithes from any of the great Muslim or Arab traders” would be enough “for jihad on all the fronts.” (hffpost)