/ 24 October 2007

Bin Laden calls for jihad against Darfur peacekeepers

Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden called for a holy war against a proposed peacekeeping force in Sudan’s war-torn region of Darfur in a message that appeared on jihadi websites on Tuesday.

The audio recording was accompanied by a still picture and excerpts were aired by pan-Arab satellite news channel al-Jazeera on Monday. Bin Laden called on those living in the areas surrounding Darfur, particularly the Arabian peninsula, to drive out any foreign forces in the region.

”It is the duty of the people of Islam in the Sudan and its environs, especially the Arabian peninsula, to perform jihad against the crusader invaders and wage armed rebellion to remove those who let them in,” he said, according to a transcript provided by IntelCentre, which monitors jihadi websites.

Bin Laden’s deputy, Egyptian-born Ayman al-Zawhiri, made a similar call for jihad in Darfur in a September 20 video message.

In Tuesday’s message, Bin Laden referred to talks between Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir and Saudi officials to pressure Bashir to agree to a joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur. Those meetings took place in March and April of this year.

In the sections of the message broadcast on Monday, Bin Laden took the highly uncharacteristic step of admitting the movement had made mistakes and chiding in followers for not uniting their ranks — a reference to the squabbles among the various insurgent groups in Iraq.

”Everybody can make a mistake, but the best of them are those who admit their mistakes,” he said. ”Mistakes have been made during holy wars but mujahedin have to correct their mistakes.”

The Arab satellite station’s decision to only air these critical parts of the video rather than the lengthy opening section, which applauded insurgent victories in Iraq, appeared to have angered the militants.

On one militant website that is a clearing house for extremist videos, it was announced the message would appear uncut and its entirety, as opposed to the way it was shown by al-Jazeera.

”The shameful and dissolute channel is seeking to support the crusaders and the enemies,” said an angry posting on the site. ”The channel is the shame of the Islamic community.

The site then called on all of its supporters to reveal to the world the falsehoods and wickedness of the channel. In the past, al-Jazeera was the outlet of choice for al-Qaeda videos.

The rest of Bin Laden’s message applauded the insurgents in Iraq for a job well done and told them to remain steadfast in the face of the increase in coalition forces, singling out the fighters in Diyala in particular. — Sapa-AP