Osama bin Laden has released a new audiotape imploring France to withdraw its troops from Muslim lands in exchange for the release of French nationals held hostage in Niger. “President Nicolas Sarkozy’s refusal to remove his forces from Afghanistan is nothing but a green light for killing the French hostages,” the al-Qaeda leader said in a tape broadcast today on Al Jazeera.
It’s the second tape bin Laden has sent referring to the hostages, who were kidnapped in September by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The group kidnapped seven foreigners, including five Frenchmen. Two were killed in a botched rescue attempt last week. "We repeat the same message to you," said bin Laden: "The release of your prisoners in the hands of our brothers is linked to the withdrawal of your soldiers from our country."