DUBAI (Reuters) -Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden said the West’s shunning of the Hamas-led Palestinian government showed it was waging a “Crusader-Zionist war” on Muslims, according to an audiotape attributed to him and aired on Sunday.
People in the West share responsibility for their countries’ “war against Islam,” said the speaker, who sounded like bin Laden, on the tape broadcast on Al Jazeera television.
The Saudi-born militant said the Darfur crisis in western Sudan and Western efforts to isolate the Palestinian government since Hamas won January elections were part of this campaign.
“Their rejection of Hamas affirms that it is a Crusader-Zionist war against Muslims,” bin Laden said.
In the brief excerpts of the tape that Al Jazeera aired, he did not repeat his assertion in an audiotape issued in January that al Qaeda was preparing attacks in the United States but was open to a conditional truce with Americans.
But his remarks about the complicity of Westerners in the policies of their governments appeared to be an argument that they were fair game for revenge attacks by militants.
“The war is a responsibility shared between the people and the governments. The war goes on and the people are renewing their allegiance to its rulers and masters,” bin Laden said.
“They send their sons to armies to fight us and they continue their financial and moral support while our countries are burned and our houses are bombed and our people are killed.”
The Qaeda leader, on the run since the U.S. campaign to oust Afghanistan’s Taliban government in 2001 after the September 11 attacks, said Western leaders had ignored his truce offers.
“They do not want a truce unless it is from our side only … they insist on continuing their Crusader campaign against our nation and to loot our wealth,” bin Laden said.
He urged militants to prepare for a long struggle in Darfur. The United States is pressing for U.N. sanctions against the Sudanese government for its part in the conflict.
“I call on mujahideen and their supporters in Sudan … and the (Arabian) Peninsula to prepare all that is necessary to wage a long-term war against the Crusaders in western Sudan,” bin Laden said, accusing the West of seeking to divide Sudan.
An Islamist government in Khartoum hosted bin Laden for several years in the 1990s.
The Darfur conflict erupted in 2003 when mostly non-Arab tribes revolted, accusing the Arab-led government of neglect.
Khartoum retaliated by arming mainly Arab militia, known as Janjaweed, who began a campaign of murder, rape and plunder that drove more than 2 million villagers into squalid camps in Darfur and in neighboring Chad. Khartoum denies responsibility.
Bin Laden also called for boycotting the United States and European countries over the controversial cartoons lampooning Islam’s Prophet Mohammad first published by a Danish newspaper.
“Bin Laden urged in his tape that solidarity for the Prophet … should continue by widening the boycott to include the United States and European nations that supported Denmark,” Al Jazeera said.
“He also demanded that those who offended the Prophet … be hand over for trial to al Qaeda,” it said.