[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/06/03/bin.laden.message/art.obl.filer.gi.jpg caption="Osama bin Laden is seen in an image taken from a videotape that aired on Al-Jazeera in September 2003."]
The emergence of a purported statement from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden about U.S. policy in Pakistan as the U.S. president embarks on a major trip to Muslim countries is no coincidence, the White House spokesman and a counterterrorism official say.
"I think the reports we've seen are consistent with messages we've seen in the past from al Qaeda threatening the U.S. and other countries that are involved in counter-terrorism efforts," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday.
"But I don't think it's surprising that al Qaeda would want to shift attention away from the president's historic efforts and continued efforts to reach out and have an open dialogue with the Muslim world."
A U.S. counterterrorism official, asked about the statement, said bin Laden "has timed the release of tapes to major events so it is not surprising that he picked this particular week."
Al-Jazeera, the Arabic-language TV network that aired the message on Wednesday, said the statement was "a voice recording by bin Laden." As for the tape's authenticity, a CNN analysis said the voice does indeed sound like the leader of the terrorist network that attacked the United States on September 11, 2001. The counterterrorism official said "there has never been a fake Bin Laden tape."
The message comes as Obama begins his trip to the Middle East, visiting Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and, in Egypt on Thursday, making a major speech to the Muslim world.
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