Osama bin Laden on Thursday declared a new phase in his campaign to topple the Saudi monarchy, urging followers to mount a peaceful revolution while also calling on Muslims not to miss a "golden and unique opportunity" to kill Americans in Iraq.
Bin Laden's call for a Saudi uprising, in a lengthy audiotape released over the Internet, represented an apparent change in tactics for the al Qaeda leader, a Saudi exile, in advocating popular change. But bin Laden added that should such tactics fail, Saudis would have no choice but to resort to a violent attack on the ruling family.
On the more than hour-long tape, which U.S. intelligence officials said they believed to be authentic, bin Laden lays out a detailed political case for overthrowing the Saudi rulers. It came on the same day a leading Saudi dissident group called for protesters to take to the streets in the kingdom. Hundreds of Saudi security personnel and riot police blockaded streets in the country's two largest cities to preempt protests, which failed to materialize.
"It was just talk," Brig. Gen. Mansour Turki, a spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry, said of the protests that didn't happen. "It was somebody outside the country presuming they had support somehow inside the kingdom."