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Osama bin Laden audio praises Arab protests

May 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
In a recording made shortly before his death, Osama bin Laden praised the mass protests that have toppled and shaken longtime rulers across the Arab world.

The audio was released on militant websites on Thursday. The message was released as a video, but it contains only an audio track and a photo of the terrorist leader.

"The winds of change will spread through the entire Islamic world, God willing," bin Laden said in the 12-minute message.

In an apparent move for al Qaeda to play a role in future protests, bin Laden said it was a "religious obligation" to form a council that would provide guidance for all Muslims on important issues.

Though both bin Laden and the West have generally supported protest movements in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere, their goals differ. The West hopes the protests will bring democratic reforms, while bin Laden and his followers hoped the collapse of the leaders would lead to governments based on the strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs in a daring raid on May 2.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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