Annan takes bin Laden death threat seriously07/05/2004 - 20:31:21
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today that the UN is taking seriously a death threat against him and other officials made in an audio tape attributed to Osama bin Laden.
The UN headquarters said it was taking steps to ”enhance the security of the secretary-general” and consulting US officials after the 20-minute recording was posted on websites offering rewards in gold for the killing of top US and UN officials in Iraq or of the citizens of any nation fighting there.
“We take it (the threat) seriously, and we will have to take precautions and then carry on with my life and my work,” Annan told reporters.
The recording, which appeared on two websites known for militant Islamic messages, promised rewards in gold for the deaths of Annan and his envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, who is in Iraq meeting officials to prepare for the June 30 transfer of sovereignty from the US-led coalition to the Iraqis.
The speaker also promised rewards for killing Paul Bremer, the chief US administrator in Iraq, the US chief commander and his deputy and others involved in the coalition that topped Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s regime.
A CIA official said today that the tape was probably authentic.
Speaking on Thursday before the release of the tape, Annan’s spokesman Fred Eckhard said the United Nations was planning a security upgrade at its New York headquarters in the aftermath of attacks on UN installations during the past year, including a Baghdad bombing that killed 22 people at the offices there in August.
Prompted by the August bombing and a subsequent bombing that killed several Iraqi policemen, the UN withdrew all staff from Iraq.
Annan said today he was relieved US President George Bush had apologised for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US military personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.
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