Bin Laden calls for Somali leader\’s overthrow

Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has called on radical Islamists in Somalia to rise up and oust new President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, according to an audio tape posted on the internet.

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Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, was elected president of the war-ravaged African state in January following UN-brokered reconciliation talks.

He faces a tough task to bring peace to a country wracked by civil war since 1991.

“This Sheikh Sharif… must be fought and toppled,” bin Laden said in a message addressed to the “champions of Somalia,” the third audiotape attributed to bin Laden that has been broadcast this year.

“He is like the (Arab) presidents who are in the pay of our enemies,” he said in the tape, whose authenticity could not be immediately confirmed.

Islamist fighters including the hardline Shebab militia have waged battles against the Somali government and its allies since before Ahmed came to power, vowing to fight until all foreign forces withdraw and Sharia law is imposed.

Hardline Islamists

The Shebab is a hardline Islamist organisation opposed to the national unity government led by Ahmed and which controls large swathes of the troubled Horn of Africa country.

In the previous bin Laden recording released on Saturday, the terrorist mastermind accused some Arab leaders of being “complicit” with Israel and the West against Muslims and urged holy war to liberate the Palestinian territories.

He issued a similar call in a tape issued in January just days before US President Barack Obama took office – the first voice recording of the Western world\’s most wanted man in eight months.

Obama said at the time that al-Qaeda and bin Laden – who is believed to be hiding in the mountainous region along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border – remained the “number one threat” to US security.

Osama bin Laden has a $US25m bounty on his head.