White House Dismisses New
bin Laden Tape As
'Terrorist Propaganda'

(AFP) - The White House bluntly dismissed newly broadcast videotaped remarks by suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden as nothing but "terrorist propaganda."

"This is nothing more than the same kind of terrorist propaganda we've heard before," spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters here, where US President George W. Bush is spending part of the holidays on his "Prairie Chapel" ranch.

Washington has blamed the Saudi-born militant and his al-Qaeda network for the September 11 terrorist strikes that killed some 3,000 people at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Bush himself has repeatedly said he hopes the world's most wanted man will be caught "dead or alive."

"Our views on bin Laden are well known," a US State Department official who declined to be named said earlier, after excerpts of the recording appeared on Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite television and US networks.

A Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday the Defense Department did not have a comment on the recording, which al-Jazeera said it planned to broadcast in its entirety at around 1830 GMT Thursday.

A US official who requested anonymity said that the Bush administration stood by its previous request that US networks not broadcast bin Laden's recordings unedited and unreviewed.

"Those views remain unchanged," the official said.

The recording shows bin Laden, clad in combat attire, a Kalashnikov assault rifle propped up beside him, accusing the West of "loathing Islam" and calling the September 11 attacks "blessed" without openly claiming credit for them.

Bin Laden declares he wants to review "the fierce crusade against Islam, two months after it was launched," suggesting that the tape was recorded around December 7.

The US-led military operation targeting Afghanistan's Taliban regime, which harbored bin Laden, began on October 7.

"The latest events have proved important truths," said bin Laden. "It has become clear that the West in general and America in particular have an unspeakable hatred for Islam."

Bin Laden also says the attacks were motivated by Washington's support for Israel and charges that US air strikes have driven many Afghans from their homes and claimed civilian casualties.
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