Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden warned that
more Americans would be killed if the self- proclaimed mastermind behind the 11
September attacks is executed, according to an audio tape aired by al-Jazeera.
“The day America will take such a
decision it will have taken a decision to execute whomever we capture,” Bin
Laden said in the audio tape. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four accused
co-conspirators are to go on trial in the U.S. and the government intends to
seek the death penalty.
A U.S. counterterrorism official has
dismissed the threat saying, “It’s the height of absurdity for anyone
associated with al-Qaida to even suggest that now, at long last, they’re going
to start treating captives badly,” said the counterterrorism official, who
spoke on condition of anonymity.
“They may have forgotten Danny
Pearl and all the others they’ve slaughtered, but we haven’t.”
In the recording, the al-Qaeda
leader also warned President Barack Obama of further attacks on U.S. soil if
the Palestinian “situation” isn’t resolved.
“They think the U.S. behind
the oceans is in safety from the anger of the oppressed. Until the strong
reaction in your homeland on the 11th of September. Happy is the one who has
been forewarned. The treatment should be equal.”
There was no immediate comment from
officials in Washington.
Virginia-based IntelCenter said the
statement appears to be authentic, and that it is “a valid indicator of an
increased threat of kidnappings targeting Americans in the immediate period and
following through” the trial of Mohammed.
Captured by Pakistani troops in
2003, Mohammed is being held at the U.S.
detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, while officials debate whether to give
him a military trial there or a civilian trial in lower Manhattan.
Mohammed has claimed responsibility
for organising the 9/11 attacks on the United States and bombs in Indonesia,
Kenya and elsewhere.