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Islamist Web sites rage at U.S.

Islamist Web sites are publishing heated rhetoric calling for action against the United States as it wages war on Iraq. But Osama bin Laden, usually eager to rally Muslims by highlighting U.S. “atrocities” around the world, has not been heard from, leading to new speculation on his fate. Bin Laden’s silence comes amid a flurry of militant rhetoric on Islamist Web sites in defense of Iraq and in praise of a suicide attack Saturday outside the central city of Najaf that killed four U.S. soldiers. “This is only the beginning!… Thank God!… Let’s pray for our martyred hero!… Damned be the evildoers and hypocrites!” exclaimed one message on the qal3ah.org site. Yasser al-Sirri, director of the London-based Islamic Observatory, said it was possible that bin Laden’s al-Qaida network or groups claiming its name would soon “move into action.” “They’re probably waiting for the right comment. A statement that doesn’t come before an action would be worthless,” he said. Abdul Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of the London-based Arabic daily al-Quds al-Arabi, said: “It seems al-Qaida doesn’t want to express itself through threats and prefers to go through action.” Full Story

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