Bin Laden Urges Europe to End Afghan Missions | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 30.11.2007
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Bin Laden Urges Europe to End Afghan Missions

In an audio message released Thursday, Nov. 30, a voice thought to belong to al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden called on Europeans to pull out of Afghanistan, where they are standing in the shadow of the White House."

Osama bin Laden

The al Qaeda leader said he planned the 9/11 attacks without the Taliban

According to a recording aired on Thursday by Qatar-based Al Jazeera television, Osama bin Laden purportedly warned Europe to end its participation in the NATO and US-led missions there.

He said his message was addressed to the European people and not the politicians, who he accused of "standing in the shadow of the White House" and of being forced to participate in the US-led "war on terror."

"The American tide is receding and they would eventually return to their home across the Atlantic," he said. "It is in your interest to force the hand of your politicians [away from] the White House.

"Europe went along with it because they had no other alternative except to be followers," he added.

Bin Laden said Taliban didn't plan 9/11

In addition, bin Laden said the Taliban knew nothing about the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States.

A German soldier in Afghanistan

Most of the German troops in Afghanistan are stationed in the north of the country

"The Afghan people and government knew nothing about it. America knows that," he said. "I am the only one responsible."

In his latest recorded message, the al Qaeda leader accused the foreign troops of acting unethically in Afghanistan by targeting women and children. It also warned that "the American tide was ebbing" and that US troops would soon leave the country, leaving Afghanistan's neighbors to "settle scores."

No immediate threat, says US

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the tape likely came from bin Laden, though no initial confirmation had been issued.

"The statement does not appear to contain any specific or credible threats, but it will be analyzed," the official said.

US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said attempts to drive a wedge between the US and its allies was "not a new tactic" of terrorists and added that Europe continues to make a strong commitment to development in Afghanistan.

Afghan girls

Bin Laden accused Western forces of targeting women and children in Afghanistan

The US has encouraged its European allies to send even more troops to Afghanistan, while lawmakers in Europe, influenced by public opinion, have been hesitant to expand their military commitment.

Afghanistan dismissed the terror leader's call for Europe to break ranks with the US.

"Security in Afghanistan means security in Europe and is an international responsibility," Afghan foreign ministry spokesman Sultan Ahmad Baheen told the AFP news agency. "We think this is an international responsibility for Afghanistan and their own countries. Nothing will deter the international unity on the war on terror."

Earlier this month, the German government decided to extend its Afghan mission by one year, upping the maximum number of available troops from 3,000 to 3,500. The Dutch government on Friday was also expected to prolong the mandate for its 1,650 troops in Afghanistan.

France has sent about 1,000 soldiers, while Britain is set to increase its involvement to 7,700 troops by the end of the year.

Bin Laden still at large

Despite a $25 million (17 million euro) bounty on his head, bin Laden have managed to elude capture. Since 2001, he has sent some 50 audio and video messages, all broadcast by Al Jazeera television.

In his last message on Oct. 22, he urged Sunni insurgents in Iraq to bury their differences and unify in their fight against US-led forces.

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