A statement attributed to Osama bin Laden offered rewards in gold valued at nearly $136,000 Thursday for the killing of top U.S. and U.N. officials in Iraq. The transcript of an audio recording dated Thursday appeared on two Web sites known for militant Islamic messages. The Web sites gave links to hear the statement, but none were working. The authenticity of the statement could not immediately be verified.
Bin Laden had never been known to offer rewards for missions he had described as followers’ religious duty to carry out.
“You know that America promised big rewards for those who kill mujahedeen (holy warriors),” the transcript read. “We in al-Qaida organization will guarantee, God willing, 10,000 grams of gold to whoever kills the occupier Bremer, or the American chief commander or his deputy in Iraq.”
It was referring to L. Paul Bremer, the chief U.S. administrator in Iraq, and top military officials.
“For security reasons, the rewards will be given as soon as conditions permit, God willing,” the transcript read. “As for those who die while killing an occupying solider, the great prize will be for us and for him when God grants him martyrdom, and the smaller prize (the gold) will be for his family.”
The statement also promised the same reward for the deaths of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi.
“The United Nations is nothing but a Zionists’ tool, even if it worked under the cover of providing humanitarian aid,” the statement said. “… Whoever kills Kofi Annan or the head of his commission in Iraq or a representative like Lakhdar Brahimi, he will be awarded the same prize of 10,000 grams of gold.”
The statement promised a lesser prize — 1,000 grams of gold — to anyone killing a citizen of countries it called “the masters of the veto like Americans and Britons” — a reference to nations with veto power on the U.N. Security Council.
And it offered 500 grams of gold to anyone killing citizens of countries it called “slaves of the Security Council who are in Iraq, like Japan and Italy.”
With gold selling Thursday on London exchanges for $387.60 an ounce, 10,000 grams of gold was valued at $135,660, 1,000 grams at $13,566, and 500 grams at $6,783.
The statement appeared on two Web sites, the Ansar Islam Forum and the Islamic Research Center. Both are clearing-houses for statements by al-Qaida and other Islamic militant groups.
The transcript also denounced U.S. plans to hand sovereignty to Iraqis on June 30, calling them a trick to end the resistance that has killed hundreds of U.S. soldiers.
“The so-called handing sovereignty over to Iraqis is an overt trick, to anesthetize the people and abort the militant resistance, and (such a trick) will not deceive the true mujahedeen of the sons of Iraq,” the statement said.
“There is no sovereignty for Iraq as long as a crusader solider remains in its land, and no sovereignty for Iraq as long as it is not ruled by Islam.”
It urged Iraqis to fight a holy war against their U.S.-appointed Governing Council, which it called a “puppet” of the U.S.-led coalition and “a tool to pass their plans to the people and a way to show their hatred of religion.”
“Therefore, jihad (holy war) is obligatory for all Muslims in Iraq,” the statement read.
The statement was titled: “A Word from the emir of the Islamic armies, Osama, to the nation and especially to brotherly Muslims in Iraq.” It used language similar to previous bin Laden statements, laden with Quranic verse.