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Bin Laden's tape rings fresh alarm

He broke his 13-month silence on Thursday when a new audio tape gave warning of impending attacks on the US.

india Updated: Jan 20, 2006 18:25 IST

Among recent reports that Osama bin Laden may have died, the terrorist leader's latest audiotape appeared proving all conjectures incorrect. He broke his 13-month silence yesterday when a new audio tape gave warning of impending attacks on the US, but offered the Americans a "long-term truce" if they stopped fighting "Muslims on Muslim land".

Al-Jazeera, which broadcast the poor quality recording, said it appeared to have been made in December. The CIA has also confirmed that the tape is genuine.

The voice sounded weak. Analysts believe the release of the recording may be an attempt by al-Qaeda to show that it has not been weakened by last week's air strike on a remote Pakistani village. Pakistani officials said four or five senior al-Qaeda figures were killed alongside 13 villagers.

Claiming victory in Iraq and Afghanistan, bin Laden boasted of the suicide bombings in Madrid and London and said America would not be spared. "The delay in similar operations happening in America has not been because of failure to break through your security measures." He warned America: "The operations are under preparation and you will see them in your homes the minute they are through (with preparations), with God willing."

Bin Laden said he was ready to offer the US a "truce" in response to opinion polls showing that Americans were weary of the war in Iraq. "The war is still raging. The operations in Afghanistan are increasing all the time on our side. The Pentagon says the number if your dead and injured is rising, and there are your huge financial loses."

He tried to horrify Americans by describing "the psychological state of a soldier who must collect the body parts of colleagues who have stepped on landmines that have torn them apart".

The White House insisted last night that the tape was a sign of al-Qaeda's desperation, not its vitality. "Clearly the al-Qaeda leaders and other terrorists are on the run, they're under a lot of pressure. We do not negotiate with terrorists, we put them out of business," said Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman.

Vice President Dick Cheney said the presence of bin Laden was evidence of an ever-present danger. "It seems more than obvious to say that our nation is at risk of attack." He condemned the "mindset" of the administration's opponents in Washington who, he suggested, had forgotten the lessons of September 11.

"Obviously no one can guarantee that we won't be hit again," he said. "Our nation has been protected by more than luck. It is no accident that we haven't been hit for more than four years."

First Published: Jan 20, 2006 18:25 IST