Bin Laden threatens France in new message

January 21, 2011 5:26:25 AM PST
Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden called on France to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in exchange for releasing French hostages being held by affiliates of the extremist group, according to a new audio message broadcast on an Arabic news channel Friday. "The exit of your hostages out of the hands of our brothers depends on the exit of your troops from Afghanistan," bin Laden said in the message broadcast by al-Jazeera.

Bin Laden reminded the French people of President Nicolas Sarkozy's refusal in November to withdraw the French troops from Afghanistan and to negotiate with al-Qaida over the hostages.

"Your president's rejection is a result of being a hireling to America and a green light to kill the hostages ... his stand will cost you a high price on different aspects inside or outside France," he said.

Bin Laden mocked the French, saying they did not have the ability to fight his organization due to their poor economy. "The size of your debts and the weakness of your budget will not allow you to open a new front," he said.

Extremist groups associated with al-Qaida are holding at least seven French hostages, including five in the Sahara Desert and two in Afghanistan.

Al-Qaida has often sent audio messages to Al-Jazeera for broadcast.

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