|Osama issues new call to arms
London Observer 11/24/02: Jason Burke
Original Link: http://www.observer.co.uk/worldview/story/0,11581,846511,00.html
A chilling new message from Osama bin Laden is being circulated among British Islamic extremists, calling for attacks on civilians and describing the 'Islamic nation' as 'eager for martyrdom'.
Details of the 4,000-word letter from the terrorist leader emerged as the British Government issued its strongest warning yet last night that attacks by bin Laden's al-Qaeda organisation on the UK are 'inevitable'.
Foreign Office Minister Mike O'Brien said: 'We face an enemy who will attack us in Britain as well as overseas... British workers in New York or tourists in Bali or residents of London or Birmingham.' O'Brien said there was a threat of 'well planned attacks' on 'British national institutions, commercial and financial infrastructure and on many aspects of our everyday life'.
Security authorities in Europe and America are concerned al-Qaeda is planning a major strike. Two weeks ago bin Laden issued a message on an audio cassette, proving he was alive and raising fears it presaged new attacks.
Britain, with its close support for America in the war on terror and Iraq, is a prime target and analysts believe any military action against Saddam Hussein would provoke a spate of revenge attacks by Islamic militants. Sources described the mood in Whitehall and at Scotland Yard as 'jumpy'.
The translated letter was originally posted in Arabic on a Saudi Arabian website previously used by al-Qaeda to disseminate messages. Within the last two weeks British Islamists have translated the letter, the most comprehensive explanation of bin Laden's ideology to be issued for several years, and posted it on English-language websites run from the UK.
The letter was sent to hundreds of subscribers to an email list run by Mohammed al-Massari, the UK-based Saudi Arabian dissident whose Committee for the Defence of Legitimate Rights has opposed the al-Saud regime for more than a decade. Yesterday al-Massari denied he supported terrorism in any way. Al-Massari has recently been granted permanent residence in Britain, a move which angered foreign governments who claim that the UK is still a haven for extremists.
Al-Massari's email and bin Laden's letter show ideological similarities. Both stress that the 'holy war' is defensive.
Bin laden issues a direct threat to the West: 'Anyone who tries to destroy our villages and cities, then we are going to destroy their villages and cities. Anyone who steals our fortunes, then we must destroy their economy. Anyone who kills our civilians, then we are going to kill their civilians.'
Most of his letter comprises a lengthy list of grievances against the West. The fugitive terrorist, who is believed to be hiding in the border regions between eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan, mounts a sustained attack on the 'immorality' of Western society.
The letter has been posted on a number of Islamist websites. One carried bomb-making information. Another offered a link to a site with information on chemical and biological weapons.
Although there is no way to confirm the authenticity of the letter beyond all doubt, senior Arab journalists in the Middle Eastern media believe the letter is from bin Laden. 'It is an extraordinary glimpse into his mind,' one told The Observer.