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Bin Laden a cowardly murderous thug: White House

world Updated: Jan 24, 2010 23:24 IST

As Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility for the botched Christmas Day US airline bombing, the White House on Sunday termed the Al-Qaeda chief a "cowardly murderous thug" and expressed hope that he would soon be brought to justice.

"I think everybody in this world understands that this is somebody that has to pop up in our lives over an audiotape because he's nothing but a cowardly, murderous thug and terrorist that will someday, hopefully soon, be brought to justice," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told the Fox News in an interview.

Gibbs's statement comes hours after the release of an audio tape in which Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility for the Christmas Day bombing in which a Nigerian Al- Qaeda operative Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab tried to blow up a US plane with about 300 people on board.

Justifying the decision to charge Abdulmutallab as a criminal defendant and not treat him as an enemy combatant, Gibbs said that decision was made by the Justice Department and the FBI, with experienced FBI interrogators.

"Make no mistake. Abdulmutallab was interrogated and valuable intelligence was gotten as a result of that interrogation," he said responding to charges that his interrogation by high-value interrogation group would have yielded better results.

"He was interrogated. Valuable intelligence was gotten based on those interrogations. I think the Department of Justice made the right decision, as did those FBI agents," Gibbs said.