Inal Ersan / Al Jazeera – 2006-02-23 08:34:27
(February 19, 2006) — Osama bin Laden accused US forces of “barbaric” acts in Iraq comparable to those committed by Saddam Hussein, according to an audio tape first broadcast in January and posted on the Internet in full on Monday.
“The (US) criminality has gone as far as raping women and holding them hostage before their husbands … as for the torture of men it has now come to the use of burning chemical acids and electric drills in their joints,” he said in the tape posted with an English-language voice over.
“Despite all these barbaric methods … the mujahideen are strengthening and increasing by the grace of Allah,” he said.
The tape, whose authenticity could not be verified, was posted on the Internet by the al Qaeda media group al-Sahab.
In January, the Qatar-based Al Jazeera television aired parts of the tape, in which bin Laden said al Qaeda was preparing further attacks in the United States.
US intelligence analysts then authenticated the tape as a message from bin Laden. It was the first bin Laden tape since 2004.
In the audio released on Monday, bin Laden said the insurgency in Iraq was gaining strength despite “barbaric and oppressive steps taken by the American army and its agents to the extent that there is no longer any mentionable difference between this criminality and the criminality of Saddam.”
The tape was first broadcast by Al Jazeera before new images surfaced of Iraqi prisoner abuse by US forces at Abu Ghraib prison in a 2004 scandal. The images showed sexual humiliation of prisoners and physical abuse.
US officials have often accused Saddam of links to al Qaeda, one of the reasons of the US-led war on Iraq which was chiefly based on allegations Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction.
Bin Laden’s remarks appeared to disassociate his group from Saddam’s regime. He said Washington was trying to muffle any media outlet that reports the truth about the losses of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Commenting on British newspaper report in a November that US President George W. Bush had mulled bombing Al Jazeera‘s head office, the Saudi-born militant called Bush the “butcher of freedom” and criticized the prominent Arab television and the leaders of its host country, Qatar.
“Recently it has surfaced in documents that the butcher of freedom in the world had resolved to bomb the head offices of Al Jazeera satellite channel in Qatar after he had bombed its offices in Kabul and Baghdad although it, as it stands, is the instrument of your (Americans) servants there (in Qatar).”
In 2001, the station’s Kabul office was hit by US bombs and in 2003 Al Jazeera reporter Tareq Ayyoub was killed in a US strike on its Baghdad office. The United States has denied deliberately targeting the station.
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