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Bin Laden demands Europe withdraw Afghanistan troops

DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden demanded that European nations withdraw their troops from Afghanistan in a new audio tape aired on Friday, saying they were sacrificing men and money in an unjust U.S.-led war.

Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden talks at a news conference in Afghanistan in this May 26, 1998 file photo. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

“We are not demanding anything unjust. It is just for you to end injustice and withdraw your soldiers (from Afghanistan),” he said in the tape, released on the Internet with a background picture of bin Laden and with German and English subtitles.

“One of the greatest injustices is to kill people unjustly, and this is exactly what your governments and soldiers are committing under the cover of the NATO alliance in Afghanistan,” bin Laden said in the recording, entitled “A message to the people of Europe”.

“An intelligent person does not waste his children and wealth for the sake of a gang in Washington,” he said in the four-minute recording produced by al Qaeda’s media arm As-Sahab.

“It is shameful to be part of an alliance whose leader does not care about spilling the blood of human beings by bombing villages intentionally,” he said, referring to civilian deaths in missile attacks against Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“If you had seen (the mass killings) of your American allies and their helpers in northern Afghanistan...then you would understand the bloody events in Madrid and London,” bin Laden said, referring to attacks in the two cities in 2004 and 2005 respectively.

Germany, which holds elections over the weekend, has 4,200 troops serving with NATO-led forces in Afghanistan.

Three videos have been posted on the Internet in the past week in which an al Qaeda messenger, identified by the German Interior Ministry as German-Moroccan Bekkay Harrach, says Germany will pay a price if voters back a government that supports the deployment.

On Friday, Harrach called for Muslims to join a jihad, or Islamic holy war, in a new German-language Internet message. The messages appeared to be part of a focused media campaign by al Qaeda ahead of the German elections.

Bin Laden’s last message was addressed to the American people and was posted a few days after the eighth anniversary of the Sept 11, 2001, attacks.

Reporting by Firouz Sedarat; Editing by Louise Ireland