Bin Laden Slams EU Over Prophet Cartoons

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden addressed the "wise men" of the European Union in a new audio message late Wednesday, slamming the publication of drawings insulting to the Prophet Muhammad and vowing a strong reaction.

The message, which appeared on a militant Web site that has carried al-Qaida 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 attacks of the Europeans on women and children but 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 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.