CIA confident that voice on tape is Bin Laden
The CIA has "high confidence" that the voice on a new audiotape praising anti-U.S. attacks belongs to terror mastermind Usama bin Laden, intelligence officials told FOX News Thursday.
The tape praised an attack earlier this month on a U.S. consulate in Saudi Arabia and criticized the Saudi regime as weak and controlled by the United States.
Lasting more than an hour, the tape was posted on a Web site known as a clearinghouse for militant Islamic comment.
Despite the fact that the recording is of bad quality, the voice matches known bin Laden recordings exactly and uses much of the same rhetoric as U.S. officials have heard before from the Al Qaeda founder, intelligence officials told FOX.
Officials were not able to say whether this tape may be a trigger for more planned attacks but they said that prospect "is always a concern."
But one expert said that while tapes released by bin Laden used to signal forthcoming attacks, that pattern has changed.
"What we're seeing lately is that there is not necessarily any linkage between an audio tape or a video tape and an attack," Jack Spencer, a senior policy analyst for defense and national security at the Heritage Foundation, told FOX News.
Still, Spencer said such tapes need to be analyzed closely.
"We always need to look at them carefully, listen to what he says, learn what we can from them," Spencer told FOX.
The latest recording appeared the same day another dissident had called for anti-monarchy protests in the kingdom.
Its reference to the Dec. 6 attack in which five militants shot their way into the compound of the U.S. Consulate in Jiddah, killing five non-American employees, showed that it was made recently. Four of the attackers were killed and one was wounded in the attack.
"God bless our brothers who stormed the American consulate in Jiddah," the speaker said. "Those who were killed of our brothers, we ask God to accept them as martyrs." The attack was claimed at the time by Al Qaeda's branch in the kingdom.
Also Thursday on the same Web site, an audiotape surfaced that was purportedly a recording of the sounds of the consulate attack transmitted via the attackers' mobile phones. Sirens, machine gun fire and shouts of "God is Great!" can be heard. At the end, a man recites Quranic verses and then says: "Humiliation for America the infidel and its allies!"
The U.S. intelligence community will conduct a technical analysis of the purported bin Laden tape, a U.S. official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The voice on the tape could not immediately be confirmed.
The speaker, speaking in calm and even tones, accused Saudi rulers of "violating God's rules," a common theme of bin Laden, who accuses Saudi rulers of being insufficiently Islamic and too close to the "infidel" United States.
"The sins the regime committed are great ... it practiced injustices against the people, violating their rights, humiliating their pride," the speaker said. He accused the Saudi royal family of misspending public money while "millions of people are suffering from poverty and deprivation."
While calling for change, the speaker scoffed at overtures such as promised municipal elections and a national dialogue Saudi rulers recently initiated to open public debate on democratization and other issues.
"This hasn't changed anything ... the best they can do is that they will go into the elections game as happened before in Yemen and Jordan or Egypt and move in a vicious circle for dozens of years, this is regardless of the fact that it is prohibited to enter the infidel legislative councils," the speaker said.
The main statement was preceded by Quranic verses, a rhetorical device typical of bin Laden.
Saudi Arabia cracked down on Muslim extremists after the May 2003 bombings of three residential compounds in Riyadh brought terrorism home to the kingdom, but has not been able to contain the violence.
Addressing Saudi rulers, the taped statement attributed to bin Laden said: "You must know that people are fed up ... security will not be able to stop them."
Bin Laden, believed hiding in the mountains along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, last reached out to his followers in October, with a videotape aired on the Arabic TV station Al-Jazeera just before the U.S. presidential elections. In that statement, he for the first time clearly took responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States and said America could avoid another such strike if it stopped threatening the security of Muslims.