I was behind Detroit bomb attack, says Bin Laden
Osama bin Laden yesterday claimed responsibility for the failed Christmas Day aircraft bombing above Detroit and vowed further attacks on American citizens.
In a minute-long audiotape purportedly made by the al-Qa'ida leader, Bin Laden raised fears that a follow-up attack was already in the works.
The taped message, 'from Osama to Obama', was broadcast on Al-Jazeera television as new details emerged of the botched Christmas Day attempt by the 'underwear bomber' Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, which has already been claimed by al-Qa'ida's affiliate on the Arabian peninsula.
US officials said that Abdulmutallab, a former University College London student who tried to set off explosives sewn into his underpants, falsely warned the police after he was arrested that there was a second bomb on board the Northwest Airlines aircraft.
Bin Laden portrayed the Christmas Day bomb plot as a continuation of al-Qa'ida's strategy after the 9/11 terror attacks. However, experts voiced scepticism that he was involved.
"The message sent to you with the attempt by the hero, Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is a confirmation of our previous message conveyed by the heroes of September 11," Bin Laden said. "If it was possible to carry our messages to you by words, we wouldn't have carried them to you by planes."
The al-Qa'ida leader said US support for Israel justified attacks.
IntelCenter, a US group that monitors Islamist websites, said the tape was a "possible indicator of an upcoming attack" in the next 12 months.
The group said the message contained specific language that Bin Laden had used before earlier attacks.
"This phrase 'Peace be upon those who follow guidance' appears at the beginning and end of messages released in advance of attacks that are designed to provide warning to al-Qa'ida's enemies that they need to change their ways or they will be attacked," a statement by IntelCenter said.
It said similar language attributed to Bin Laden was made in a condemnation of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed on March 19, 2008. This was followed by an attack on the Danish embassy in Islamabad on June 2, 2008.
The phrase also appeared in Bin Laden's offer of a truce to European nations on April 15, 2004, which was followed by al-Qa'ida attacks in London in July 2005 -- a delay that IntelCenter attributed to the difficulty of executing the strikes.
The White House said it was unable to authenticate the tape. Al-Jazeera said that it believed it was recorded last month.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told Fox News: "This is somebody that has to pop up in our lives over an audio tape because he's nothing but a cowardly murderous thug and terrorist that will some day be brought to justice."
A senior US intelligence official said that there was no evidence that Bin Laden had "any involvement in the Christmas Day attack -- or even knew about it beforehand. The message suggests the al-Qa'ida leader wants to appear in direct command of the terrorist group's many affiliates around the world at a time when some analysts have suggested he is mostly a figurehead." (© The Times, London)