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Purported Al Qaeda tape vows attacks

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- A voice on an audiotape purportedly made by Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network vowed that the group would wage devastating attacks on Americans "everywhere" that would make Washington forget the horror of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Officials in Washington said last week that they are on alert for possible attacks by the militant group.

"We announce there will be new attacks inside and outside which would make America forget the attacks of Sept. 11," a man identifying himself as an Al Qaeda spokesman said on the tape, broadcast by the Arabic television channel

Al-Arabiya. The tape was dated Wednesday.

The speaker identified himself as Abu Abdel-Rahman al-Najdi. The television station showed a still photo of a bearded militant wearing a headdress as it played the tape. There was no independent verification yesterday of the identity of the speaker.

"We assure the Muslims that Al Qaeda ranks have doubled. . . . Our casualties are nothing compared to our [good] conditions now," the speaker added. "Our coming martyrdom operations will prove to you what we are saying."

Al Qaeda purportedly issued five other audiotapes this year threatening action against the United States. Bin Laden and his deputies also purportedly made several video appearances in 2001.

The speaker denied links to the killing of leading Shi'ite Muslim cleric Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim in a bomb attack in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf last month.

"We strongly deny that Al Qaeda had any hand in this bombing which killed Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, violated the sanctity of one of God's houses, and killed innocent people," the speaker said.

"Our highest aim is to fight the Americans and kill them everywhere on earth and drive them out of Palestine, the Arabian peninsula, and Iraq."

The speaker added that ousted Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and bin Laden were alive and leading the battle against US forces in Afghanistan.

The speaker urged Muslims to fight the jihad, or holy war, against US forces. "God has opened the doors of jihad in Iraq and Palestine, so do not close them," he said.

FBI and Homeland Security officials warned last week that the United States could face attacks from Al Qaeda, saying the group still targets Americans and has a presence in US cities two years after the Sept. 11 attacks, which killed about 3,000 people.

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