In an audio recording posted on the Internet coinciding with the birthday of Islam's founder, Osama bin Laden said the drawings were part of a "new crusade" in which Pope Benedict was involved.
"Your publications of these drawings -- part of a new crusade in which the Pope of the Vatican had a significant role -- is a confirmation from you that the war continues," said the Saudi-born militant leader, addressing "those who are wise at the European Union".
You are "testing Muslims ... the answer will be what you shall see and not what you hear. May our mothers lose us to death if we did not rise in defence of the messenger of God..."
It is bin Laden's first message since Nov. 29 when he urged Europe to end participation with U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
It carried what appeared to be an old picture of bin Laden firing an assault rifle. The message also coincides with the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Bin Laden said the publication of the cartoons was a graver offence than the "bombing of modest villages that collapsed over our women children", in reference to U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan with European participation. "This is the bigger catastrophe ... for which the punishment is graver."
"Animosity among people is very old but wise people ... have always been keen on maintaining the manners of disagreement and the ethics of fighting ... but you have abandoned many of these ethics although you use them as slogans," he said.
Bin Laden said Europe was intentionally targeting Muslim women and children at the behest of their "unjust ally who is close to departing the White house".
Bin Laden said brutality had not defeated Muslims and made them determined to avenge our folk and eject the invaders from out countries.
Last Mod: 20 Mart 2008, 14:33