- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 26, 2009

CAIRO | Osama bin Laden demanded that European countries pull their troops out of Afghanistan in a new audiotape Friday, warning of “retaliation” against them for their alliance with the United States in the war.

The al Qaeda leader denounced NATO air strikes in Afghanistan that have killed civilians and warned that European countries would be held accountable alongside the Americans unless they withdraw from the country.

“A wise person would not waste his sons and money for a gang of criminals in Washington. … In summary, we are not asking too much or an invalid demand, but it would be fair that you lift your oppression and withdraw your troops,” bin Laden said, addressing the Europeans.

The audiotape, just under five minutes long, was posted Friday on Islamic militant Web sites. It comes after a series of al Qaeda videos this week that directly addressed Germany and threatened attacks over Berlin’s military mission in Afghanistan. Those videos featured a little-known German-Algerian militant and have raised concerns among German authorities ahead of parliamentary elections.

Bin Laden’s tape came as a voice-over on a video that had English and German subtitles translating his speech, along with a still photo of bin Laden in front of a map of Europe.

The al Qaeda leader predicted that American forces would soon pull out of Afghanistan, abandoning their NATO allies, and warned that al Qaeda would then retaliate against the Europeans. It was not clear whether his threat was aimed at European troops in Afghanistan or against European countries themselves.

“It won’t be long before the war’s dust in Afghanistan clears out, and you will not find a trace of an American [soldier] … and it will be only us and you left,” he said, addressing Europeans.

The authenticity of the tape could not be immediately verified, though the voice resembled that on previous recordings confirmed to be by bin Laden. The video carried the logo of al Qaeda’s media arm, Al-Sahab.

“It is a shameful thing for a person to be in a coalition whose supreme commander has no regard for human blood and intentionally bombs villagers from the air,” said bin Laden, referring to a recent German-ordered U.S. air strike in Kunduz, Afghanistan, that killed dozens and has pushed Berlin’s Afghan mission to the forefront of Germany’s parliamentary election campaign.

The German commander of NATO forces in Kunduz has said he ordered the bombing because he thought there were no civilians nearby and feared the hijacked trucks would be used to carry out suicide bombings.

Al Qaeda has released three messages over the past week addressed to Germany that included threats linked to the country’s presence in Afghanistan and parliamentary elections on Sunday.

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