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Seles_Beckham
Jan 20th, 2003, 07:09 PM
Monday January 20, 2003


A new document apparently signed by Osama bin Laden urges Muslims to stop fighting each other and unite against the "crusader coalition" attacking the Islamic world.
Extracts from the 26-page statement were published in the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat yesterday. If genuine, it reflects growing frustration in al-Qaida.

"When will the Muslims wake up from their long and deep sleep?" it asks. "When will they distinguish between their friend and their enemy? When will they aim their internal arrows with which they kill each other towards their external enemy...?"

It is unclear whether it refers to a particular inter-Muslim quarrel and it does not name the "external enemy".

Earlier statements attributed to Bin Laden and al-Qaida have accused the US and Israel of a crusade against the Muslim world.

The journalist who wrote the article, Mohammed al-Shafa'i, told Associated Press that the statement was posted to the paper from an Islamic source in London associated with the Centre for Islamic Studies and Research in Pakistan, which is known to have links to al-Qaida.

The document says: "The current situation Muslims are living in requires a deployment of all efforts to fight the Islamic battle against the crusader coalition, which has revealed its real, evil intentions.

"Their target now is Islam and Muslims and not only the [Middle East] region."

Despite numerous written, audio- and videotaped statements attributed to him since the US intervention in Afghanistan, it is unclear where Bin Laden is, or if he is still alive.

No websites affiliated to al-Qaida had published the latest statement last night, which normally happens whenever such a statement appears.

Its author said he was "surprised by the many different controversies and feuds among Muslims in general and those working for Islam in particular".

"Such a dangerous phenomenon has become the only thing Islamic-oriented factions agree upon."

The document exonerates al-Qaida leaders of blame for unspecified mistakes.

"The honour of righteous men should be protected despite whatever faults they may commit," it said, but without elaborating.