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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 January 2006, 22:16 GMT
'Bin Laden tape' warns of attacks
Osama bin Laden
Rumours about the state of Bin Laden's health have abounded
Arabic TV station al-Jazeera has aired an audio tape, which CIA analysts say is by al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

In it, the speaker says new attacks on the US are being planned, but offers a "long-term truce" to the Americans, an offer quickly rejected by the US.

It is the first time Bin Laden has been heard of 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.

Bush al-Jazeera attack

"Documents have recently showed that the butcher of freedom in the world [US President George Bush] had planned to bomb the head office of al-Jazeera Space Channel in the state of Qatar," the man, purported to be Bin Laden said.

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
Osama Bin Laden tape

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.

US officials have said they believe Bin Laden is hiding in a mountainous area on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

There is no clear indication of when the tape was recorded.

Last month, al-Jazeera aired a videotape it said dated back to September, showing al-Qaeda's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

In it, Zawahiri declared that, despite a prolonged absence and rumours about ill-health or possible injury, Bin Laden was alive.

Truce offer

Despite the warning of renewed attacks, the speaker also offered the US the chance of a long-term truce in light of the fact that US public opinion polls showed growing opposition to the war in Iraq.

Your president is misinterpreting public opinion polls which show that the vast majority of you support the withdrawal of your forces from Iraq
Voice said to be Bin Laden
"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.

"Your president is misinterpreting public opinion polls which show that the vast majority of you support the withdrawal of your forces from Iraq."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan quickly dismissed the truce offer saying: "We do not negotiate with terrorists. We put them out of business".

'Ploy'

US Vice President Dick Cheney said the offer appeared to be a ploy, but that it was too early to draw conclusions.

"I don't think anybody would believe him... It sounds to me like it's some kind of a ploy, but again not having seen the entire text or validated the tape and the timing of it, I'm reluctant to draw any conclusions," Mr Cheney said in an interview with Fox news.

Bin Laden made Europe a similar pact offer 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.




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