By CNN Reporter, Sunday, March 5, 2006.
A taped message attributed to Osama bin Laden's deputy calls on Muslims to attack the "economic infrastructure" of the West and stop Western countries from "stealing" Mideast oil, according to recordings posted on Islamist Web sites Sunday.
The statement calls on al Qaeda's followers to launch attacks that will make Western powers "bleed for years."
"We have to prevent the crusaders from stealing the Muslims' oil, which is being drained in the biggest robbery in history," the statement, attributed to No. 2 al Qaeda figure Ayman al-Zawahiri, said.
The statement came out a week after Saudi authorities thwarted a suicide car-bomb attack on the Abqaiq oil-processing facility in eastern Saudi Arabia.
The February 24 incident did not affect the facility's operations, Oil Minister Ali bin Ibrahim al-Naimi said, and five suspected Islamic militants that Saudi authorities linked to the attack died in a gunbattle near Riyadh three days later. (Full story)
The audio appears to have been taken from a recent videotaped message, portions of which were broadcast Saturday on the Arabic-language news network Al-Jazeera.
In those excerpts, al-Zawahiri complimented the Islamic militant group Hamas on its Palestinian election victory, spoke against the cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed and condemned the latest images of prisoners being mistreated by U.S. troops at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. (Full story)
In the video, al-Zawahiri appeared standing in front of a panel of white lace curtains and wearing a black turban. Although he referred to recent events, it is unknown when the tape was made.
"All this in the West is allowed so they can steal and occupy our land, and stealing our wealth and insulting us and our religion and Quran and our prophet. And after that, they gave us lessons on freedom and human rights," he said.
Al-Zawahiri was last heard from publicly January 30, when he appeared in a video to announce he was alive and well after a U.S. missile strike targeted him January 13 in Pakistan. (Full story)
U.S. officials have said that between four and eight al Qaeda members were killed in the CIA attack in Damadola, near the Afghanistan border.
Pakistani officials said 18 people were killed in the airstrike, including five women and five children, which prompted protests across the country. (Full story)
There was no independent confirmation that the voice on the tape was that of al-Zawahiri, an Egypt-born physician who has remained at large since the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. The U.S. government has put a $25 million price on his head.