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New Yorkers are on edge again today after Osama Bin Laden broke a year's silence to threaten new attacks - and they're furious the Al Qaeda overlord is still on the loose. Read here for more
The White House has dismissed a fresh audio message thought to be from Osama Bin Laden, and pledged once again to track down the al-Qaeda leader.
US Vice President Dick Cheney rejected an apparent offer of a "long-term truce", describing it as a "ploy".
Arabic TV station al-Jazeera aired the tape, later authenticated by the CIA.
The message contained threats of new attacks within the US and abroad, but US security officials said they would not raise the national threat level.
It is the first time Bin Laden has been heard from since December 2004.
Analysts believe the tape dates from at least 22 November as the speaker refers to reports that President Bush planned to bomb al-Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar.
Speaking on the Fox News TV network, Mr Cheney said it was too early to draw firm conclusions about the tape, but added that al-Qaeda was "unlikely" ever to sit down and sign a truce.
"I think you have to destroy them. It's the only way with them," the vice-president said.
In the audio message, Bin Laden appeared to suggest that a US withdrawal from Muslim lands could prompt agreement over a truce.
But the speaker also threatened fresh attacks in the US, as well as a continuation of strikes within Iraq.
In his message, the man purported to be bin Laden referred to the allegation of a US plan to attack al-Jazeera, calling Mr Bush "the butcher of freedom in the world".
The speaker on the tape said the reason there had not been an attack in the US since 11 September 2001 was not because of superior US security, but because the group had been engaged in activities in Iraq - and because operations in the US "need preparations".
"The operations are happening in Baghdad and you will see them here at home the minute they are through (with preparations), with God's permission," he said.
On Fox News, Mr Cheney said: "Obviously no-one can guarantee that we won't be hit again. But our nation has been protected by more than luck."
US officials have said they believe Bin Laden is hiding in a mountainous area on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In a video message broadcast last month, al-Qaeda's number two Ayman al-Zawahiri declared that bin Laden was alive despite a prolonged absence and rumours about ill-health or possible injury.
The offer of a truce came in light of the fact that US public opinion polls now show growing opposition to the war in Iraq
We have no objection to responding to this with a long-term truce based on fair conditions," the speaker said.
"We do not mind offering you a truce that is fair and long-term... so we can build Iraq and Afghanistan... there is no shame in this solution because it prevents wasting of billions of dollars.White House spokesman Scott McClellan quickly dismissed the truce offer saying: "We do not negotiate with terrorists. We put them out of business".
"Your president is misinterpreting public opinion polls which show that the vast majority of you support the withdrawal of your forces from Iraq."
Bin Laden offered Europe a similar pact following the Madrid train bombings of March 2004.
Correspondents say it is an attempt to frighten the public and drive a wedge between them and their governments, which say it is necessary to stay to distance in Iraq, not pull out troops.
The BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says that in the US the immediate political effect of the tape will probably be to boost support for President George W Bush.
Here is the full text of the message, as carried on al-Jazeera's website.
My message to you is about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the way to end it.
I had not intended to speak to you about this issue, because, for us, this issue is already decided on: diamonds cut diamonds.
Praise be to God, our conditions are always improving and becoming better, while your conditions are to the contrary of this.
However, what prompted me to speak are the repeated fallacies of your President Bush in his comment on the outcome of the US opinion polls, which indicated that the overwhelming majority of you want the withdrawal of the forces from Iraq, but he objected to this desire and said that the withdrawal of troops would send a wrong message to the enemy.
Bush said: It is better to fight them on their ground than they fighting us on our ground.
In my response to these fallacies, I say: The war in Iraq is raging, and the operations in Afghanistan are on the rise in our favour, praise be to God.
The Pentagon figures indicate the rise in the number of your dead and wounded, let alone the huge material losses, and let alone the collapse of the morale of the soldiers there and the increase in the suicide cases among them.
So, just imagine the state of psychological breakdown that afflicts the soldier while collecting the remnants of his comrades' dead bodies after they hit mines, which torn them. Following such situation, the soldier becomes between two fires. If he refuses to go out of his military barracks for patrols, he will face the penalties of the Vietnam butcher, and if he goes out, he will face the danger of mines.
So, he is between two bitter situations, something which puts him under psychological pressure - fear, humiliation, and coercion. Moreover, his people are careless about him. So, he has no choice but to commit suicide.
What you hear about him and his suicide is a strong message to you, which he wrote with his blood and soul while pain and bitterness eat him up so that you would save what you can save from this hell. However, the solution is in your hand if you care about them.
The news of our brother mujahideen, however, is different from what is published by the Pentagon.
This news indicates that what is carried by the news media does not exceed what is actually taking place on the ground. What increases doubts on the information of the White House's administration is its targeting of the news media, which carry some facts about the real situation.
Documents have recently showed that the butcher of freedom in the world [US President Bush] had planned to bomb the head office of al-Jazeera Space Channel in the state of Qatar after he bombed its offices in Kabul and Baghdad, although despite its defects, it is [Al-Jazeera] one of your creations.
Jihad is continuing, praise be to God, despite all the repressive measures the US army and its agents take to the point where there is no significant difference between these crimes and those of Saddam.
These crimes include the raping of women and taking them hostage instead of their husbands. There is no power but in God.
The torturing of men has reached the point of using chemical acids and electric drills in their joints. If they become desperate with them, they put the drill on their heads until death.
If you like, read the humanitarian reports on the atrocities and crimes in the prisons of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
I say that despite all the barbaric methods, they have failed to ease resistance, and the number of mujahideen, praise be to God, is increasing.
In fact, reports indicate that the defeat and devastating failure of the ill-omened plan of the four - Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz - and the announcement of this defeat and working it out, is only a matter of time, which is to some extent linked to the awareness of the American people of the magnitude of this tragedy.
The wise ones know that Bush has no plan to achieve his alleged victory in Iraq.
If you compare the small number of the dead when Bush made that false and stupid show-like announcement from an aircraft carrier on the end of the major operations, to many times as much as this number of the killed and injured, who fell in the minor operations, you will know the truth in what I am saying, and that Bush and his administration do not have neither the desire nor the will to withdraw from Iraq for their own dubious reasons.
To go back to where I started, I say that the results of the poll satisfy sane people and that Bush's objection to them is false.
Reality testifies that the war against America and its allies has not remained confined to Iraq, as he claims.
In fact, Iraq has become a point of attraction and recruitment of qualified resources.
On the other hand, the mujahideen, praise be to God, have managed to breach all the security measures adopted by the unjust nations of the coalition time and again.
The evidence of this is the bombings you have seen in the capitals of the most important European countries of this aggressive coalition.
As for the delay in carrying out similar operations in America, this was not due to failure to breach your security measures.
Operations are under preparation, and you will see them on your own ground once they are finished, God willing.
Based on the above, we see that Bush's argument is false. However, the argument that he avoided, which is the substance of the results of opinion polls on withdrawing the troops, is that it is better not to fight the Muslims on their land and for them not to fight us on our land.
We do not object to a long-term truce with you on the basis of fair conditions that we respect.
We are a nation, for which God has disallowed treachery and lying.
In this truce, both parties will enjoy security and stability and we will build Iraq and Afghanistan, which were destroyed by the war.
There is no defect in this solution other than preventing the flow of hundreds of billions to the influential people and war merchants in America, who supported Bush's election campaign with billions of dollars.
Hence, we can understand the insistence of Bush and his gang to continue the war.
If you have a genuine will to achieve security and peace, we have already answered you.
If Bush declines but to continue lying and practicing injustice [against us], it is useful for you to read the book of "The Rogue State", the introduction of which reads: If I were a president, I would halt the operations against the United States.
First, I will extend my apologies to the widows, orphans, and the persons who were tortured. Afterwards, I will announce that the US interference in the world's countries has ended for ever.
Finally, I would like to tell you that the war is for you or for us to win. If we win it, it means your defeat and disgrace forever as the wind blows in this direction with God's help.
If you win it, you should read the history. We are a nation that does not tolerate injustice and seek revenge forever.
Days and nights will not go by until we take revenge as we did on 11 September, God willing, and until your minds are exhausted and your lives become miserable and things turn [for the worse], which you detest.
As for us, we do not have anything to lose. The swimmer in the sea does not fear rain. You have occupied our land, defiled our honour, violated our dignity, shed our blood, ransacked our money, demolished our houses, rendered us homeless, and tampered with our security. We will treat you in the same way.
You tried to deny us the decent life, but you cannot deny us a decent death. Refraining from performing jihad, which is sanctioned by our religion, is an appalling sin. The best way of death for us is under the shadows of swords.
Do not be deluded by your power and modern weapons. Although they win some battles, they lose the war. Patience and steadfastness are better than them. What is important is the outcome.
We have been tolerant for 10 years in fighting the Soviet Union with our few weapons and we managed to drain their economy.
They became history, with God's help.
You should learn lessons from that. We will remain patient in fighting you, God willing, until the one whose time has come dies first. We will not escape the fight as long as we hold our weapons in our hands.
I swear not to die but a free man even if I taste the bitterness of death. I fear to be humiliated or betrayed.
Peace be upon those who follow guidance.
Commentary by Justin Raimondo on Osama bin Laden's latest Message
".... Bin Laden is right: instead of being pinned down in Iraq, the worldwide Islamic insurgency, of which al-Qaeda is the spearhead, has spread far and wide: to Europe, to South Asia, and – he says – has even infiltrated the American homeland. Given the utterly abysmal state of our defenses against another terrorist strike – as evidenced by the recent fulminations of the 9/11 Commission – is there anyone who really doubts OBL is telling the truth about this?
We had better believe that "operations are in preparation." In the absence of such elementary precautions as inspecting all cargo coming into the U.S., we can't afford to assume this is an idle boast.
Bin Laden mocks the clueless Bush, who believes that "we're fighting them in Iraq so we don't have to fight them over here," by clearly implying that they are already over here and have been for some time. That ought to send a chill down your spine.
The "preparations" he talks about may be just about finished: at least, that is how it seems to me. If you examine bin Laden's past pronouncements, and the public statements of al-Qaeda, a clear pattern emerges: there is a warning, followed by an attack – and a claim of responsibility. Bin Laden's public persona is very consistent: he says what he intends to do, then he does it. We have no reason to disbelieve him, or to assume he'll break the pattern this time.
Another pattern of behavior is that he always offers his enemies a way out: in the past, he has said that a change in U.S. foreign policy would have to mean a corresponding change on his part. His spokesman, Zawahiri, offered the Europeans a truce after the Madrid and London bombings; this was treated with contempt by every Western government and virtually everyone else, yet there is no reason to disbelieve him on this point, either.
While this may not be enough to spark a "bin Laden for president" boom in the U.S., it confirms what analysts such as Scheuer have long said: that al-Qaeda launched its global insurgency in order to secure certain specific and strictly limited goals, the primary one of which is to rid the Middle East of Western military and political dominance.
By announcing that the U.S. would henceforth not be interfering in the affairs of other nations, we would effectively bring the insurgency to an end – and the threat of terrorism against the U.S. homeland would cease. This bin Laden pledges, on his word as a Muslim. It would be foolish to believe he doesn't take such a vow seriously, or utter it in all sincerity – just as it would be equally foolish to disdain his threats as baseless boasting.
Of course, according to the demonological view of bin Laden, which depicts him as an irrational monster entirely without any strategic sense – or even any genuinely religious conviction – he is not capable of sincerity.
The offer of a truce had barely been uttered before it was rejected by the U.S. government, which announced that it doesn't "negotiate with terrorists." We negotiated with Stalin, with Hitler, with despots of every size, shape, and hue – and yet to do so with bin Laden, even if indirectly, is impermissible.
However, bin Laden is not asking to negotiate: what he wants is a change – a turnabout – in U.S. policy in the Middle East. This, in his view, is not negotiable: it is the whole rationale behind his jihad. The jihad will end, he says, if and when Americans realize. READ HERE FOR MORE