- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 19 (UPI) — An American Muslim advocacy group Wednesday rejected Osama bin Laden's reported attempts to persuade Iraqis to carry out suicide missions against Americans if the United States launches a military offensive to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

In a taped message, released last Tuesday by the Arab Al Jazeera network, a voice U.S. authorities say is that of al Qaida leader bin Laden, urged Muslims in Iraq to carry out suicide missions against U.S. troops.

The voice also urged Muslims around the world to "rise against the puppet Islamic rulers" who have already used America to subjugate the Muslims.

Al Qaida is believed to have masterminded and carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington and has also allegedly been involved in other terrorist attacks.

Before Sept. 11, bin Laden operated from bases in Afghanistan, but after the collapse of the Taliban government in December 2001, he went into hiding. Initially, he was presumed dead but U.S. intelligence experts now say at least one of the tapes claiming to contain messages from him was indeed bin Laden's voice.

"Both Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden falsely believe they speak for a greater cause while seeking to achieve their own goals," said the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an umbrella organization representing several Muslim groups.

"The Iraqi people have suffered enough from the leadership of Hussein and they will certainly suffer more from the misguided assistance of bin Laden," MPAC said.

The organization denounced bin Laden for claiming to speak on behalf of Muslims throughout the world, demanding to know who gave him "the authority to represent all the Muslims."

Similarly, it said, Muslims renounce all faith in the leadership of Saddam and "demand he resign from his post as president of Iraq."

Just as bin Laden doesn't represent the vast majority of Muslims around the world, Saddam doesn't represent the vast majority of Arabs around the world, especially Iraqis, the statement said.

"These so-called leaders misuse the Koran and the imaginary support of their people to carry out hate-driven objectives and ambitions and that's simply wrong," MPAC Executive Director Salaam Al Marayati stated.

He added: "The Bush Administration needs to do its part in maintaining stability in the region by ruling out any kind of military action that would only cause more death and suffering for the impoverished Iraqi people."

MPAC said the U.N. arms inspectors were still needed in Iraq and urged that once the inspections declared Iraq to be in compliance with U.N. resolutions on disarmament, there should be world support for new leadership in Baghdad.

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