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Praises bali attack { October 14 2002 }

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Bin Laden Statement Praises Attacks

By Nadia Abou El-Magd
Associated Press Writer
Monday, October 14, 2002; 10:29 AM

CAIRO, Egypt A statement attributed to Osama bin Laden appeared on an Islamic Web site Monday, praising an attack on U.S. marines in Kuwait and what appears to have been a terrorist attack on a French tanker off Yemen earlier this month.

There was no way to verify the authenticity of the statement on the Web site, which has carried articles in the past signed by senior al-Qaida operatives.

U.S. officials have not verified bin Laden's whereabouts this year and say a previously aired videotape of him having dinner with his associates in early November in Afghanistan was the last definitive sign he was alive.

"We congratulate our Islamic community on the bold, heroic holy war that was executed by its sons of the faithful holy warriors in Yemen against a crusader oil tanker and in Kuwait against the invading and occupying American troops," read the Arabic statement.

"By exploding the oil tanker in Yemen, the holy warriors hit the umbilical cord and lifeline of the crusader community, reminding the enemy of the heavy cost of blood and the gravity of losses they will pay as a price for their continued aggression on our community and looting of our wealth."

Bin Laden has often referred to the United States as "crusaders" and to Jews as "the enemy." Such statements have appeared periodically on Islamic fundamentalist Web sites that cloak the identity of those who run them and espouse anti-Western ideology.

Monday's statement was read on the pan-Arab satellite network Al-Jazeera which has aired al-Qaida videos and interviews over the last year. A recording of bin Laden's voice aired last month on Al-Jazeera was authenticated by the CIA, but U.S. officials said the recordings probably weren't made recently.

In recent days, al-Qaida leaders have gone back on the Mideast air waves in what experts say is a renewed public relations campaign aimed at keeping itself in the public eye.

U.S. counterterrorism officials believe the recordings coinciding with the one-year anniversary of the war in Afghanistan are a sign of al-Qaida's leadership asserting it is still viable to its rank-and-file followers.

At the same time, there has been evidence of increased terror-related activities including attacks against Western targets in Kuwait, Yemen and the Philippines.

One marine was killed and another wounded when U.S. forces came under fire during training exercises in Kuwait on Oct. 8. There have been two additional shooting incidents since then.

On Oct. 6. a French tanker was damaged in an explosion in Yemen. The explosion is being investigated as a terror attack and Yemeni officials said they were looking at the possibility that the blast was caused by a small boat laden with explosives. The USS Cole was attacked in a similar fashion in Yemen in October 2000 in an act attributed to bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

The recent al-Qaida statements prompted the FBI last week to issue a warning to state and local law enforcement agencies that a new al-Qaida attack on the United States has been approved by the terror network's leadership. But the agency said it did not have any specific information detailing where and when an attack may occur.

The State Department then followed suit, issuing a worldwide caution to Americans abroad to alert them to "the continuing threat of terrorist actions that may target civilians."

2002 The Associated Press

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