CAIRO, Egypt – Usama bin Laden slammed the publication of drawings insulting to the Prophet Muhammad in a new audio message posted late Wednesday and warned Europeans of a strong reaction to come.
The message, which appeared on a militant Web site that has carried Al Qaeda statements in the past and bore the logo of the extremist group's media wing al-Sahab, showed a still image of bin Laden aiming with an AK-47.
A voice believed to be bin Laden's described the cartoons as taking place in the framework of a "new Crusade" against Islam and warned Europeans that a reaction would come.
"The response will be what you see and not what you hear and let our mothers bereave us if we do not make victorious our messenger of God," he said, without specifying what action would be taken.
The tape was posted less than a week after the Danish intelligence service said the reprinting of a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad had brought "negative attention" to Denmark and may have increased the risk to Danes at home and abroad.
Danish newspapers republished a cartoon showing Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban on Feb. 13 to show their commitment to freedom of speech after police said they had uncovered a plot to kill the artist.
The drawing was one of 12 cartoons first published in a Danish newspaper that triggered major protests in Muslim countries in 2006. The reprint has led to protests in some predominantly Muslim countries.
Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favorable, for fear it could lead to idolatry.
In the audiotape, the voice believed to be bin Laden's describes attacks by Europeans, saying "it grieves us that you targeted our villages with your bombardments, these villages built of mud, collapsed on our women and children."
But he said these "paled (in comparison) when you went overboard in your unbelief and freed yourselves of the etiquettes of dispute and fighting and went to the extent of publishing these insulting drawings, this is the greatest misfortune and the most dangerous."
The five-minute message, which featured English subtitles, is bin Laden's first for 2008 and follows up an hour-long, audio missive from Dec. 29 in which he warned Iraq's Sunni Arabs against fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq and vowed new attacks on Israel.
The message came as the Muslim world marked the Mulid al-Nabi, the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.