Purported bin Laden voice: 'It's only a question of time'
Audiotape warns Americans of impending attacks, offers truce
Thursday, January 19, 2006; Posted: 1:24 p.m. EST (18:24 GMT)
(CNN) -- An audiotaped message purported to be from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden warns that plans for terror attacks in the United States are under way -- and also offers a "long-term truce."
" ... The war against America and its allies will not be confined to Iraq," the man's voice said, adding that "Iraq has become a magnet for attracting and training talented fighters."
"It's only a matter of time," the voice said, referring to attacks. "They are in the planning stages, and you will see them in the heart of your land as soon as the planning is complete."
The message also opened the door to a "solution."
"In response to the substance of the polls in the U.S., which indicate that Americans do not want to fight Muslims on Muslim land, nor do they want Muslims to fight them on their land, we do not mind offering a long-term truce based on just conditions that we will stick to.
"We are a nation that God banned from lying and stabbing others in the back. Hence, both parties of the truce will enjoy stability and security to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan, which were destroyed by war.
"There is no problem in this solution, but it will prevent hundreds of billions from going to influential people and warlords in America -- those who supported Bush's electoral campaign. And from this, we can understand Bush and his gang's insistence on continuing the war," the voice said.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the tape suggested bin Laden was "under pressure." He also dismissed the idea of a truce, saying, "We must confront threats before it is too late...before the attacks reach our shores."
CNN could not immediately confirm that the voice on the poor-quality audiotape, which was aired on Arabic-language network Al-Jazeera on Thursday, was that of bin Laden. However, CNN's Senior Editor for Arab Affairs Octavia Nasr said it does sound like the al Qaeda leader.
The CIA is in the process of determining the authenticity of the tape, according to an intelligence official.
On the tape, the speaker said, "Our mujahedeen were able to overcome all the security measures in European countries, and you saw their operation in major European capitals.
FBI, counterterrorism and intelligence officials say there's been no increase in so-called "chatter," or monitored communications, and no intelligence suggests any terrorist plan is operational or ready to be put in place in the United States.
No plans exist to raise the nation's threat level from "yellow" -- or elevated -- to "orange" -- or high, according to McClellan and Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke.
To Knocke's recollection, the threat level has never been raised in reaction to an al Qaeda tape. The threat level has been raised seven times since the color warning system was created after the September 11, 2001, attacks.
There is no way to determine when the message was recorded, but the reference to attacks in European cities could indicate it was recorded after the July 7 bombings on London's transportation system. The morning rush-hour attacks on three subways and a double-decker bus killed at least 52 people.
Another clue includes a reference to a secret Downing Street memo, first reported in the British newspaper, The Mirror, on November 22.
"Recently documents appeared that the freedom butcher of the world was planning to bomb the headquarters of the satellite television Al-Jazeera in Qatar ..." the voice said, according to a transcript on Al-Jazeera's Web site.
In the memo, President Bush allegedly discussed such a plan.
Broadcast portions of the tape did not, however, mention the CIA strike on a home in Damadola, Pakistan, last Friday. The CIA had targeted senior al Qaeda members, who were expected to attend a dinner, and it is not clear if any were among the 18 people who were killed.
If the voice on the tape is determined to be that of bin Laden, it would be the first message from the al Qaeda leader since he released two audiotaped messages in December 2004.
The first of those messages mentioned the attack on the U.S. Consul offices in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, earlier that month that left five people dead. In the second message, bin Laden anointed terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as his deputy in Iraq.
The last videotaped message from bin Laden was seen just before the U.S. presidential election in 2004.
Reference to U.S. opinion polls
In the audiotape released released Thursday, the speaker cited U.S. opinion polls, saying that most Americans want U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq.
"Your President Bush has been misleading you. He has lied when he said that the people are behind him. Opinion polls have indicated that the overwhelming majority of you want him to pull the troops out of our land.
"We have the answer to these misleading information. The situation in Iraq is getting worse for you and the dead and the injured among you is on the rise," the voice on the tape said.
It's not clear exactly which polls he's referring to, but CNN/USA Today/Gallup polls released January 11 showed that 53 percent of those questioned felt things were going badly for the United States in Iraq, and 46 percent thought things were going well.