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OSLO, Norway (AP) — The United States closed its embassy through the weekend in Oslo after a purported al-Qaida threat against Norway that some thought was likely meant instead for neighboring Denmark.

The Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera aired an audio tape Wednesday purportedly by Ayman al-Zawahri, the top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, urging attacks on the United States, Britain, Australia and, surprisingly, Norway.

"Don't allow Americans, Britons, Australians, Norwegians or any other crusaders, who are the killers of your brothers in Iraq, to live in your countries, enjoy your resources and corrupt the earth," he said.

Norway, known as a global peacemaker and home of the Nobel peace prize, seemed an unlikely target considering it didn't support the U.S.-led war against Iraq.

But Denmark, like Britain and Australia, was part of the U.S.-led coalition.

The proximity of the countries sparked speculation that fuzzy geography about Scandinavia may have blurred the distinction between the two by al-Qaida.

"Of course he means Denmark," said Helle Lykke Nielsen, a terrorism expert at the University of Southern Denmark. "Looking at the context, he evidently is talking about the members of the coalition."

Denmark gave complete political and military support to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, including a submarine and an escort ship. In June, 380 Danish soldiers will head for Iraq and two senior civilians — Ole Woehlers Olsen and Henrik Olesen — are part of the country's postwar administration.

And in the Middle East, Scandinavia — Denmark, Norway and Sweden — "often become one in people's minds" she told The Associated Press in Copenhagen.

Stein Toennesson, director of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo said it was unusual Norway would be targeted, but not unlikely.

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Justice Minister Odd Einar Doerum said the national police intelligence service and other agencies were reviewing the threat risk.

"Norwegian authorities are doing a running evaluation of the situation in close cooperation with friendly countries," he said.

The U.S. Embassy, which closed Thursday, will stay closed through the weekend, spokesman Andrew Schilling said.

Copyright © 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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