|Bin Laden and Evil Bert|
The leader of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, has called for the withdrawal of French troops from Muslim lands in exchange for the release of hostages, in an audio message.
Referring to French hostages being held in Niger, the speaker on the tape, who sounded like Bin Laden, says their release depended on moves by their own government.
He says France will pay dearly for its policy in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
"President Nicolas Sarkozy's refusal to remove his forces from Afghanistan is nothing but a green light for killing the French hostages," Bin Laden says in the recording, broadcast on Al Jazeera on Friday.
"We repeat the same message to you: The release of your prisoners in the hands of our brothers is linked to the withdrawal of your soldiers from our country."
Photoshopped rendering of Bin Laden showing Obama what a rifle looks like.
This is the second tape that Bin Laden, believed to be hiding in the mountainous border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, has released an audio recording attacking French policy and linking the French presence in Afghanistan to the kidnapping of its nationals in Niger.
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