Osama posthumously praises 'winds of change' in Arab world

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Osama bin Laden
Washington, May 19: Al-Qaeda has released the first audio message of Osama bin Laden after his death, praising the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia and predicting that the revolt would engulf the entire Arab region.

"The winds of change started from Tahrir Square will blow over the entire Muslim world," bin Laden is quoted as saying in the 13-minute message, apparently recorded months before he was shot dead by US forces at his Abbottabad compound in Pakistan.

The audio tape was released on-line yesterday to ''jihadists'' websites by al-Qaeda's media arm al-Sahab and was obtained and translated by America's SITE intelligence group.

The "posthumous" tape has an apparent reference to revolts in Tunisia and Egypt and includes still images emblazoned with an old picture of the al Qaeda leader.

"This wasn't a revolution of starving and pain, but a revolution of giving and peace... The great oppression in our countries has reached great levels, and we have delayed enough the wave of change," he says.

The al-Qaeda leader, who was killed by US forces in a special operation in Pakistan on May 2 asks Muslims to not let the new wave of revolution wear out.

In the tape, bin Laden accused Arab leaders of building themselves into idols and manipulating to stay in power. He tells Muslims to fight ignorance for the revolutions to succeed.

"Oh Muslims, you have seen many revolutions in your past... Those that the people have been so happy about, but then have turned into nothing. And the way to keep these revolutions from having the same problem is fighting ignorance.

"And some of the most important information is Islam. For this is the true crisis that has hit our nations," he says according to available translation of his message.

The US intelligence officials were aware that the recording was in the pipeline. Bin Laden was known to record many of his thoughts and US intelligence experts are pouring through the recordings seized from his Abbottabad compound.

But its unclear whether more such recordings are in the pipeline or whether this was the finals sermon from the the ''merchant of death''.

PTI

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