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Al-Qaida Says Bin Laden Is Alive, Preparing New Attacks on U-S - 2002-06-23


A spokesman for the al-Qaida terror network says Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenant are alive and well and ready to orchestrate new attacks on U-S targets.

Spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith was heard in an audio tape aired today (Sunday) by the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera television network.

He denied reports that the al-Qaida leader was either badly wounded or killed during U-S - led military operations in Afghanistan, and said Osama bin Laden will soon deliver an address to the Arab world.

The spokesman also denied that top bin-Laden aide Ayman al-Zawahiri has been injured, and said Taleban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar is still alive.

Ayman al-Zawahiri --Al-Qaida's number-two man -- was reported seriously wounded during U-S-led attacks earlier this year on al-Qaida fighters at a terror stronghold in eastern Afghanistan.

In Washington, the head of the U-S Senate Intelligence Committee says he is not surprised by today's al-Jazeera report. Senator Bob Graham told Fox television that U-S intelligence operatives have for some time believed Osama bin-Laden had survived the U-S-led attacks in the Tora Bora region.

The al-Qaida spokesman also confirmed long-held suspicions that his group planned and executed a deadly suicide attack in April at a synagogue in Tunisia.

Last month, a London-based Arabic newspaper (Asharq al-Awsat) first linked al-Qaida to the blast, when it quoted an al-Qaida commander as saying the driver of a fuel truck that crashed into the synagogue on Djerba island belonged to al-Qaida. Nineteen people -- most of them German tourists -- were killed in the blast.

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