A spokesman for the al-Qaeda network has claimed responsibility for the explosion on the Tunisian island of Djerba, that killed 14 German tourists in April, in a statement broadcast on the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television channel.
At total of nineteen people were killed when a fuel tanker exploded outside a synagogue on the resort island on April 11. It was the first direct claim of al Qaeda involvement in the blast. German government ministers had earlier said there was evidence linking the blast to Osama bin Laden’s network.
"This operation was carried out by al Qaeda network. A youth could not see his brothers in Palestine butchered and murdered...(while) he saw Jews cavorting in Djerba," Sulaiman Abu Ghaith said in the undated recording broadcast by Qatar-based al-Jazeera channel.
"So this spirit of jihad surged and he (the al Qaeda member) carried out this successful operation, may God accept it," said Abu Ghaith. It was not clear when the tape was received or where Abu Ghaith was speaking from.
Osama bin Laden and his No. 2 man are both alive and well and their Qaeda network is ready to attack new U.S. targets, Abu Ghaith added. "I want to assure Muslims that Sheik Osama bin Laden ... is in good and prosperous health and all what is being rumored about his illness and injury in Tora Bora has no truth," according to excerpts aired Sunday by al Jazeera.
"I can say that 98 percent of the leadership of al-Qaeda are safe and are running their affairs perfectly," the voice on the recording said. An Al-Jazeera presenter quoted Abu Ghaith as saying that fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar, who had protected bin Laden, is also alive.
Referring to recent U.S. warnings about imminent al-Qaida threats, Abu Ghaith said the group would choose the right time, place and method.
The warnings were "a cover-up for the ugly face of the onslaught by the Democratic Party against the Republican Party after the American president announced he was aware of the Sept. 11 operations and because of the economic problems the American government was suffering from," Abu Ghaith said.
"I say 'Yes' to what American officials are saying ... that we are going to carry out attacks on America," he stated. Al-Qaeda, according to Abu Ghaith, "is now monitoring, detecting and observing new American targets other than the targets previously monitored, which we will strike at in a period that is not long."
He called the Sept. 11 attacks a "great historic victory that broke the backs of the Americans, the strongest power in this world." (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )