By Mark Memmott

Americans taken prisoner by al-Qaida will be killed if Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the so-called mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, is executed, someone claiming to be Osama bin Laden says in a new audiotape broadcast by Al-Jazeera.

The Qatar-based news network reports on its English webpage that it will have "more soon" on a "new audio message purportedly from Osama bin Laden (that) threatens Americans."

Reuters, writing from Dubai, says that "bin Laden, in a fresh audiotape, threatened to execute any Americans taken prisoner by al Qaeda if accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed is executed, Al-Jazeera television reported on Thursday."

Verifying if such a voice really is bin Laden, and when the recording was made, will take authorities some time.

Mohammed, who has claimed he planned the 9/11 attacks, is in U.S. custody. There's a fierce debate underway over whether he and his alleged co-conspirators should be tried before a military tribunal or in a civilian court.

Update at 8:27 a.m. ET. Al-Jazeera has now posted a story about the recording. It quotes the person on the tape as saying:

"The day America will take such decision (to execute Mohamed and any others) it would have taken a decision to execute whoever we capture."

categories: Terrorism

8:00 - March 25, 2010