Bin Laden in disaster relief appeal
Osama bin Laden has called in a new message for the creation of a relief body to aid Muslim victims of natural disasters and wars.
In an audio tape, the al Qaida leader also criticised governments in Muslim countries for spending more money on armies than on their citizens.
The bin Laden tape comes after similar messages from al Qaida figures accusing the Pakistani government of failing to provide for its people after massive floods in the country killed hundreds and left some eight million people homeless.
The authenticity of the tape could not be immediately verified.
A copy of the message was provided by the US-based SITE Intelligence Group.
"What governments spend on relief work is secondary to what they spend on armies," bin Laden said on the 11-minute tape called Reflections on the Method of Relief Work.
He said a new "well-funded" relief organisation should be created to study Muslim regions near bodies of water to prevent future flooding, to create development projects in impoverished regions and to work on farming and agriculture to guarantee food security.
He called on Muslim merchants to direct their resources to cultivating agricultural land in countries like Sudan that are not used for farming. "Merchants are the knights who will save this region from famine and must avoid investing in worthless projects," he said.
The audiotape was posted on Islamic militant websites, according to the US-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi forums and provided a copy of the message.
The tape is aired over a still photograph of a smiling bin Laden superimposed over a picture of a man distributing aid.