Pan-Arab station airs tape allegedly from bin Laden

Sunday, December 21, 2003

CAIRO, Egypt -- The pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Arabiya broadcast a tape Saturday with a voice claiming to be that of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

However, rival channel Al-Jazeera claimed it aired the same tape two months ago. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said the video previously aired in October on Al-Jazeera.

"It's not new," the official said Saturday.

On the tape, a voice claiming to be that of bin Laden praised attacks on American forces in Iraq, saying the Americans were waging a "new crusade against the Islamic world."

In an expanded broadcast later, bin Laden said there have been voices calling for "peaceful solutions and democracy" in Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen.

"This is illegal and against God's book," he said, referring to the Quran.

Al-Jazeera, based in Qatar, said it broadcast the same material Oct. 18.

"This is 100 percent the same tape we broadcast in October," Saeed Shouly, the deputy chief editor of Al-Jazeera, told The Associated Press minutes after Al-Arabiya first broadcast the tape.

CIA analysts who examined the audio tape that Al-Jazeera broadcast in October concluded it was probably authentic.

There was some confusion over whether Al-Arabiya pulled the tape after its initial broadcast Saturday. A journalist at the station told Associated Press Television News on condition of anonymity that the tape was withdrawn and would not air a second time. The journalist would not say why.

However, the station later aired an expanded version of the tape.

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