DUBAI, (AFP) – Osama bin Laden has expressed concern about global climate change and flooding in Pakistan, in an audiotape aired on the Internet, his first public remarks since March, a monitoring group said on Friday.
The number of victims caused by climate change is very big… bigger than the victims of wars,” said the voice, whose authenticity could not be immediately verified and was made available by SITE Intelligence Group.
The tape would be the first time Bin Laden has spoken publicly since March 25.
It was not clear when the tape was made, but bin Laden congratulated Muslims on the holy fasting month of Ramadan which ended September 10.
“The catastrophe (in Pakistan) is very big and it is difficult to describe it,” said the leader of Al-Qaeda.
“What we are facing… calls for generous souls and brave men to take serious and prompt action to provide relief for their Muslim brothers in Pakistan.”
Bin Laden made a series of recommendations to deal with climate changes namely preventive measures that he said should be taken by governments in the face of disasters.
“Providing tents, food and medicine is a duty… but the disasters (facing many Muslim countries) are much bigger than what is being offered.
“Action should not be confined to providing emergency aid… but to set up a capable relief task force that has the knowledge and experience need to” meet the challenges.
One of them is “setting up studies of urban areas that lie by rivers and valleys in the Muslim world,” pointing to floods that hit the Saudi city of Jeddah earlier this year.
He also called for a review of security guidelines concerning dams and bridges in Muslim nations and said more should be done to invest in agriculture to guarantee food security for all.
“Investment in agriculture needs a lot of efforts and yields small gains. The issue today is not about gains or losses, but about life or death.”
In one of two tapes issued in January, bin Laden blamed major industrial nations for climate change, a statement the US State Department said showed that he was struggling to stay relevant.
In his most recent remarks, he warned that Al-Qaeda would kill Americans if the alleged mastermind of the 2001 attacks on the United States, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, were executed.
Plans to send Mohammed to trial just steps away from his alleged crime in New York had to be put on hold after a furious public backlash over potential costs and security threats.
In another statement in January, he claimed responsibility for the botched Christmas Day bombing attempt of a US airliner and vowing further strikes on American targets.
Bin Laden also referred to US support for Israel in the January message.
“God willing, our attacks against you will continue as long as you maintain your support to Israel,” he said.
Bin Laden’s whereabouts are unknown, but in August, the US commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, said bin Laden is “far buried” in the remote mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan and that capturing him remains a key task.