A top al-Qaida official warned on Sunday in an audio tape that the United States will pay dearly if it harms detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
"I swear in the name of God that the crusader America will pay dearly for any harm done to any of the Muslim detainees it is holding," Ayman al-Zawahri, a top official in Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network, said in a tape broadcast by the Dubai-based television Al-Arabiya.
The threat was made in response to Washington's announcement that it will start putting the detainees on military trials that could result in death sentences.
Al-Qaida had previously issued similar warnings of attack inaudio tapes, but al-Zawahri said this time they would launch "the real battle" should the detainees be put on trial.
"We must tell Americans that you have seen only skirmishes sofar. The real battle hasn't started yet," he warned.
More than 660 terror suspects from 42 countries are being held in Cuba's Guantanamo Bay, which is occupied and used as the US Navybase.
The detainees were arrested during the US-led war on Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in 2001. The United States held bin Laden and his al-Qaida terror network responsible for the air-borne raids, which killed more than 3,000 people in New York and Washington.