(AP) CAIRO, Egypt – A man identified as Osama bin Laden bitterly criticized the Saudi regime in an audiotape posted on an Islamic Web site on Thursday.
The voice sounded like the al-Qaida terror chief’s, and the lengthy tape was posted on a site known as a clearinghouse for militant Islamic comment. The identity of the speaker, however, could not be independently confirmed.
The speaker said that while Saudi leaders blame “holy warriors” for trouble in the kingdom, “the truth is that the whole responsibility falls on the shoulders of the regime.”
The tape appeared the same day another dissident had called for anti-monarchy protests in the kingdom.
The speaker, in calm and even tones, accused Saudi rulers of “violating God’s rules,” a common theme of bin Laden, who accuses Saudi rulers of being insufficiently Islamic and too close to the “infidel” United States.
“The sins the regime committed are great … it practiced injustices against the people, violating their rights, humiliating their pride,” the speaker said. He accused the Saudi royal family of misspending public money while “millions of people are suffering from poverty and deprivation.”
While calling for change, the speaker scoffed at overtures such as promised municipal elections and a national dialogue Saudi rulers recently initiated to open public debate on democratization and other issues.
“This hasn’t changed anything … the best they can do is that they will go into the elections game as happened before in Yemen and Jordan or Egypt and move in a vicious circle for dozens of years, this is regardless of the fact that it is prohibited to enter the infidel legislative councils,” the speaker said.
The main statement was preceded by Quranic verses, a rhetorical device typical of bin Laden.
Saudi Arabia cracked down on Muslim extremists after the May 2003 bombings of three residential compounds in Riyadh brought terrorism home to the kingdom, but has not been able to contain the violence.
On Dec. 6, five militants shot their way into the compound of the U.S. Consulate in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, killing five non-American employees.
Bin Laden, believed hiding in the mountains along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, last reached out to his followed in October, with a videotape aired on the Arabic TV station Al-Jazeera. In that statement, he for the first time clearly took responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States and said America could avoid another such strike if it stopped threatening the security of Muslims