World

Purported bin Laden tape focuses on Iraq

An audiotape purportedly prepared by al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden threatens Israel and Iraqi Sunni Arabs who are working with the U.S. forces in the country.

An audiotape purportedly prepared by al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden threatens Israel and Iraqi Sunni Arabs who are working with the U.S. forces in the country.

The tape was posted on a militant Islam website Saturday.Its authenticity cannot be confirmed.

The 56-minute tape does not mention Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistani politician assassinated Thursday. Al-Qaeda has been blamed for her death.

Most of the tape is about Iraq, where the U.S. has claimed success in battling al-Qaeda by enlisting some Sunni Arabs into local "awakening councils." The Sunnis, a minority in Iraq, ran the country under deposed dictator Saddam Hussein. They are believed tobe the main opposition to the U.S.-backed coalition government.

Bin Laden also denounced the Iraqi coalition government, which includes Shias, Sunnis and Kurds.

"Our duty is to foil these dangerous schemes, which try to prevent the establishment of an Islamic state in Iraq,"bin Ladensaid.

"The most evil of the traitors are those who trade away their religion for the sake of their mortal life," he said.

Just before the tape was released, Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, said al-Qaeda was distressed that some Sunnis in Iraq were turning against them.

Al-Qaeda is worriedby theSunnis that have turned against them, and by "the general sense that Sunni Arab communities have rejected them more and more around Iraq."

In a Dec. 17 video, al-Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, attacked Iraqi Sunnis who helpthe U.S.

Threat toIsrael

Bin Laden said al-Qaeda intends to "liberate Palestine, the whole of Palestine from the [Jordan] river to the sea.

"We will not recognize even one inch for Jews in the land of Palestine as other Muslim leaders have," he said.

Al-Qaedadoes not appear to be a major force among Palestinians.

Bin Laden has released five tapes this year.

With files from the Associated Press