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Bin Laden claims U.S. plane bombing attempt

DUBAI (Reuters) - A purported audio tape of Osama bin Laden aired on Al Jazeera television claimed responsibility for a December 25 attempted bombing of a U.S.-bound plane, and the al Qaeda leader vowed to continue attacks on the United States.

"The message sent to you with the attempt by the hero Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is a confirmation of our previous message conveyed by the heroes of September 11," bin Laden said on the tape, aired on Sunday.

"If it was possible to carry our messages to you by words we wouldn't have carried them to you by planes," bin Laden added in a message he said was directed "from Osama to (U.S. President Barack) Obama."

The Yemen-based regional wing of al Qaeda has said it was behind the December 25 attempt to blow up the plane as it approached Detroit. The botched attack and subsequent threats in Yemen prompted Sanaa to declare an open war on the global militant group within its territory.

Yemen has launched a series of air strikes targeting al Qaeda leaders since then and has declared that some top leaders including Qasim al-Raymi and Ayed al-Shabwani have been killed. Al Qaeda denies this.

Defense and counterterrorism officials say Washington has been quietly supplying military equipment, intelligence and training to Yemen to destroy suspected al Qaeda hide-outs.

On Sunday's audiotape, bin Laden cited Washington's support for Israel as the motivator for more attacks on the United States, and vowed not to stop so long as Palestinians cannot live in peace.

"Our attacks against you will continue as long as U.S. support for Israel continues," bin Laden said. "It is not fair that Americans should live in peace as long as our brothers in Gaza live in the worst conditions."

(Reporting by Tamara Walid and Amena Bakr; Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Louise Ireland and Amran Abocar)

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