Bin Laden to kill any U.S. hostages if 9/11 mastermind executed
September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden threatened Thursday that his organization would kill any Americans it takes prisoner if accused September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is put to death, according to an audiotape aired on al Jazeera on Thursday.
If the U.S. decides to execute Mohammed or other alleged al-Qaida members, "it will have taken a decision to execute whomever we capture," Bin Laden said in the tape broadcast on al-Jazeera.
Bin Laden said U.S. President Barack Obama was "following in the footsteps of his predecessor," George W. Bush, with regard to the escalation of the war in Afghanistan and the treatment of U.S. prisoners.
"The politicians in the White House were practicing injustice against us, and they still are, particularly in their support for Israel in its continued occupation of Palestine," Bin Laden said.
In the tape, the latest since January 24, Bin Laden said that the U.S. used to think that "America, across the oceans, was protected from the rage of the oppressed. Then our reaction was loudly heard at your home on September 11, with God's help."
Intelcenter, a United States based firm which monitors terrorism confirmed that the statement was made by Bin Laden.
"The statement appears to be authentic. Bin Laden's specific threat serves as a valid indicator of an increased threat of kidnappings targeting Americans in the immediate period and following through the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial in the U.S.," a firm spokesman said.
"The threat of kidnappings will increase further as the trial begins. Attempts to kidnap Americans would not be limited to core al-Qaida. The group's regional arms such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qaida in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb, which has been aggressively targeting Westerners for kidnapping in North Africa, may follow through on bin Laden's threat," the firm added.
Meanwhile, a U.S. counterterrorism official dismissed as absurd bin Laden's threat to execute any Americans in captivity.
"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 official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "They may have forgotten Danny Pearl and all the others they've slaughtered, but we haven't."
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