Bin Laden Threatens European Allies

Usama bin Laden demanded that European countries pull their troops out of Afganistan in a new audiotape Friday, warning of "retaliation" against them for their alliance with the United States in the war.

The Al Qaeda leader denounced NATO airstrikes in Afghanistan that have killed civilians and warned that European countries would be held accountable alongside the Americans unless they pull out.

"A wise person would not waste his sons and money for a gang of criminals in Washington ... In summary, we are not asking too much or an invalid demand, but it would be be fair that you lift your opression and withdraw your troops," bin Laden said, addressing the Europeans.

The audiotape, just under five minutes long, was posted Friday on Islamic militant Web sites. It comes after a series of Al Qaeda videos this week directly addressing Germany, threatening attacks over that country's involvement in Afghanistan. Those videos featured a little-known German-Algerian militant and have raised concerns among German authorities ahead of parliamentary elections.

Bin Laden's tape came as a voice-over on a video that had English and German subtitles translating his speech, along with a still photo of bin Laden in front of a European map.

Bin Laden predicted that American forces would soon pull out of the country, abandoning their European allies, and warned that Al Qaeda would then retaliate against them. It was not clear whether his threat was aimed at European troops in Afghanistan or against European countries themselves.

"It won't be long before the war's dust in Afghanistan clears out, and you will not find a trace of an American (soldier) ... and it will be only us and you left," he said, addressing Europeans.

"How do think you will fare after America pulls out -- Allah permitting -- allowing us to retaliate from the oppressor on behalf of the oppressed?" he said.

The authenticity of the tape could not be immediatly verified, though the voice resembled that on previous recordings confirmed to be by bin Laden. The video carried the logo of Al Qaeda's media arm, Al Sahab.

The Al Qaeda leader is believed to be hiding in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.