- The Washington Times - Friday, June 30, 2006

CAIRO — Osama bin Laden called on President Bush in an audiotape released yesterday to release the body of Abu Musab Zarqawi and said Jordan should allow the slain terrorist to be buried in his homeland.

In the 19-minute message, bin Laden paid tribute to Zarqawi and said the former al Qaeda in Iraq leader had been under orders to kill Iraqis who supported U.S. forces in the country. He also vowed more attacks against the United States in the Middle East and Africa.

“We will continue to fight you and your allies everywhere, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan to run down your resources and kill your men until you return defeated to your nation,” he said, addressing Mr. Bush. His voice sounded breathy and fatigued at times.

It was the fourth audio message purportedly put out this year by bin Laden. The voice in the latest message — released on an Islamic Web forum where militants often post messages — resembled that on previous recordings attributed to bin Laden.

White House press secretary Tony Snow said: “It’s another bin Laden audio tape. It is what it is.”

Zarqawi was killed in a June 7 U.S. air strike northeast of Baghdad.

Mr. Snow said the White House had no comment on bin Laden’s request to hand over Zarqawi’s body to his family. The Jordanian government has said it will never allow Zarqawi to be buried in his homeland.

“What scares you about Abu Musab after he’s dead?” bin Laden asked, addressing the Jordanian king, Abdullah II. “You know that his funeral, if allowed to happen, would be a huge funeral showing the extent of sympathy with the mujahedeen.”

The audio message was accompanied by a video showing an old photo of bin Laden next to images of Zarqawi taken from a previous video. New video images of bin Laden have not appeared since October 2004.

In the tape, bin Laden effusively praised Zarqawi, often in couplets. “Al Zarqawi’s story will live forever with the stories of the nobles, so don’t cry over one who is not missing,” he said.

The tape comes a week after bin Laden deputy Ayman al-Zawahri issued his own tribute video to Zarqawi, extolling him as “the prince of martyrs.”

Meanwhile in Indonesia, Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, two weeks after finishing a jail term for links to bombings in Bali, said a “crusade” against Islam by Mr. Bush and his allies is doomed to fail.

“You need to know that the Westerners, led by George Bush, have a program to revive the Crusades to destroy Islam,” he told Reuters news agency in an interview in Indonesia’s hill country city of Bandung, 85 miles southeast of Jakarta.

But the man seen as the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah, a militant group linked to al Qaeda, said violence should be reserved for defending Islam in “conflict zones” like Iraq and Palestinian territories. Civilians should not be deliberately targeted, he said.

Bashir, 67, left a Jakarta jail on June 14 after serving time for a role in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 persons.

Accused of wanting to create a pan-Islamic state in Southeast Asia, Bashir said: “The term is not establishing an Islamic state but enforcing Islamic Shariah [law].”

“If the world wants peace, then Islamic leadership is a must. This comes from God and his messengers, not from me.”

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