The head of Homeland Security in the United States, Tom Ridge, has sought to reassure American voters that they can go to the polls to elect a new president on Tuesday, without fear of acts of terrorism.
Mr Ridge said there was no specific intelligence that suggested an attack was likely on election day.
He was speaking after the release of the latest videotaped message from Osama bin Laden, warning of possible new attacks on the US.
What is your reaction to the tape and its message? Will it affect the outcome of the US presidential election? What do you think of Bush and Kerry's reaction?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far so far:
Although Bin Laden's grasp of US politics is shaky, and his own policies indefensible, this was a much more measured performance than usual. Much of what he said will resonate across the world, especially the Middle East. Perhaps he is planning to reposition himself as a moderate leader - if so, maybe we should start worrying more about the other extremists now.
It is a shame on President Bush's stance on the war on terror he leashed by first bombing Afghanistan then did indiscriminate killing through his war machine of innocent children, women and men. The objective behind the whole operation was to hunt down bin Laden which he has failed to do. History and those whose relatives died in this barbaric act in both the countries will never forgive George Bush. It is a sad fact that the world has become and is becoming even more precarious to live in freely and comfortably ever since the campaign of war on terror has been started by George Bush.
Arif Mahomed, UK
I'm deeply disturbed by bin Laden's message, by his distortion of geo-political events, and his lack of remorse for orchestrating the events of September 11. You do not combat injustice with violence, you cannot solve decades of conflict through terrorist acts. Bin Laden and fundamentalist terrorists are this generation's challenge. In the 20th century, the world faced the threat of fascism. We will remove the threat of fundamental terrorism with the same resolve and spirit because we are a nation of citizens who value liberty and justice. Bin Laden does not understand this, but he will.
Many political analysts say that Arab and Muslim societies are fertile land for breeding terrorists because Arabs and Muslims hate Americans' freedom. I believe they are right. Yes we do hate, detest and abhor your freedom. We hate your freedom to carpet bomb anywhere in the world; this freedom that you practised whenever and wherever it suited your interests. We hate your freedom to support then topple tyrannies in any country; slighting the heavy human toll your actions impose on the helpless nations.
We hate your freedom to supply armies of occupation and oppression with the most evil fruits of human genius, whenever and wherever fits your economical and ideological agendas. We hate your freedom to manipulate public opinions so people can really believe that the destruction of hundreds of thousands of human lives by the most horrific means is a necessary and justifiable collateral damage. In short, we hate your freedom to deny other humans their freedoms and their lives. As to the American's freedom, who cares!
It's amazing: bin Laden says "it doesn't matter who wins" and everybody says over and over that he is trying to influence the election. The candidates go right back into their little battle. He said "it doesn't matter". Unlike the wonderful wacky world of US politics where every statement is in fact a politically charged ploy, Mr. bin Laden says exactly what he means. He says the reasons why he resorts to violence, and then the US makes up other reasons and believes those instead. It amazes me too: after 4 years, America has no idea why the other side declared war. Violence never results in peace. Peace be upon those who practice peace.
Charles Werden, NYC, US
Bush wants it both ways. He repeats 'if John Kerry were President, then Saddam would still be in power and a threat'. Well, Bush is President and Bin Laden is a threat because Bush lost focus and went on an irrelevant war in Iraq. Yet now, Bush uses the fact that Bin Laden is still at large to urge people to vote for him. Nice argument; Bin Laden captured vote for me, Bin Laden not captured vote for me. Which one is it, Mr. Bush?
"Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervour, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar."
Abdullah S. Jafari, Houston, Texas, USA
Most people either don't care about Bin Laden and what he has to say or don't even know that there is such a tape. It seems that other countries care more about the tape, than we do.
This taped message doesn┐t surprise me because it doesn┐t say anything new. Bin Ladin and Bush are very good enemies and they have a great interest in keeping each other as such! This is definitively a very bad news for Kerry, people of America know how Bush deals with his enemy and they have never seen Kerry in action.
Bin Laden doesn't care who wins the election. This is meant to increase his stature in the Middle East. The tape clearly helps Bush.
Mark Zimmerman, USA
These tapes always seem to come out at very suspicious times. I wouldn't be surprised if our present regime isn't behind this to stir up more fear. I think if it has any effect on the election it would be among the undecided voters. But I can't see how anyone couldn't see through this rather transparent attempt by this administration to influence the election.
Lori Faison, USA
As a 19 year old first time voter, this tape really does nothing to influence my decisions in picking a candidate. What some people here are missing-a key point-is that bin Laden said "security is in the people's hands" not Bush or Kerry's. Therefore, as both candidates have promised to continue hunting down this criminal, the security of the US will not change either way. Additionally, how foolish of some of you to believe to that these terrorists would simply disappear if the US left the middle east-they do hate freedom-remember the Taliban government in Afghanistan? You cannot tell me they respected the rights of their own people.
Its amazing to see the reaction of the posters on this forum. It seems as if Osama is dictating the US policy/elections. Whether the airing of the tape helps or hurt either candidate is a secondary issue. The main issue is the deliverer of the message and his misguided intentions. The question is; How long will Osama dictate and drive fear into common citizens of nations around the world? And may I add its not just the economy only anymore stupid!
WHR, Gaithersburg, USA
I'm more worried about the tonnes of weapons that have taken a walk and maybe into the hands of al-Qaeda while under Bush's watch. This tape is a drop in the ocean compared to the real issues at hand. America, look at your blunders and then decide who will best serve your national security demands. This is a global problem so go with Kerry and make friends rather than enemies as it's at times like this when you need friends.
Clearly a coup for Bush. If Bin Laden is trying to turn the Middle East (and the World) away from America, then getting a ham-fisted bigot like Bush Jnr back into the White House is clearly Bin Laden's best bet. Bush and Bin Laden are each others best political asset. Only Bush can make the world hate America in the way Bin Laden wants. Bin Laden is rooting for Bush and he knows every dumb American will fall for his wheeze.
Any one who believes that this is authentic needs to grease their brain cells. Bush's administration has clearly masterminded this tape. Osama must have access to plastic surgery in the hills to do away with his wrinkles. As "security" is the only word that Bush can talk...he's now got his cowboys to get a tape made where even his apparent enemy, Osama says the same.. in the last weekend before elections! Wake up America! Makes me think what tape Blair will come up with in the weekend before May's elections!
Jamie Brum, London
Its disgusting to me to see the population of our 'ally' blame the WTC attacks on us. No matter what you may think of our administration, the US and its population has always sought to bring freedom and justice to the world. Though we make mistakes, we have never intentionally killed women and children, civilians or destroyed without cause. How can you possibly excuse or even justify what happened on Sept 11th with anything we did?
If it had been Buckingham Palace or downtown London instead of New York and the Pentagon, do you think we would be saying the same things about your actions? Would America be as critical or unsupportive of British attempts to quell terrorism? Would we look back into how Iraq and the middle east boarders were formed? Would we look back at British actions in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Suez Canal, and a thousand other places that predate our actions, and certainly make any mistakes we made pale in comparison? I doubt the US populace would care what! happened before, and certainly wouldn't use it as an incrimination on the British. Or use them to excuse or justify attacks that specifically targeted civilians for no other reason then to murder and instil fear for some twisted interpretation of the Koran.
When I read Dennis's comment that the US has "never intentionally killed women and children, civilians or destroyed without cause", my heart sinks. This is precisely what is wrong with our country and the number one reason so many around the world hate us. We are unable to admit to our mistakes and, worse, we insist upon repeating them. Furthermore, what Americans cannot understand is that not everyone wants to live as we do. Freedom and democracy cannot be forced upon a society. These ideas must be "home-grown." Any idea forced upon another society, no matter how noble in principle, is doomed to failure. This has been demonstrated countless times throughout history. We can hunt terrorists forever, but we'll never win the war. So long as one person has the desire to commit a terrorist act, we are not safe. We should instead try to understand how our own actions and behaviour have helped to create such a deep divide between us and so many others.
I don't think this video will have any impact on the outcome of the US election and I don't think Bin Laden cares either way. He wants a change in US foreign policy on the Middle East, regardless of who is in charge. I believe his timing is calculated for maximum publicity rather than affecting the election per se. Although he appears to be talking to the American electorate, the statesman-like presentation leads me to believe that his message is intended for the candidates themselves.
Rhys Bridges, Portugal/UK
What's Arabic for "yadda, yadda, yadda"? Bin-Laden was a threat when he was silent; since 9-11 he's done nothing but talk a good game at the Americans.
TJ Cassidy, USA
Why is it that no country or politician is willing to tackle the underlying reasons for Bin Laden's actions. Call him a terrorist if you like, but looking at it from his point a view and that of his multitude of followers, he is undoubtedly a patriot. Bin Laden dead, solves nothing without a drastic change of policy on the part of the USA.
Colin Bradley, Japan
Since Bush carried out Osama Bin Laden's wishes by removing Saddam from power - after all the only proven connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam is that al-Qaeda tried to assassinate Saddam on several occasions - I am sure Bush will welcome this message of support from his fellow war criminal. Surely even the American people aren't stupid (or brainwashed) enough to re-elect GW Shrub ?
An excellent way to bring out the truth of why the USA is being attacked and expose the current US administration of its lies. If Americans listened to what Bin Laden had to say, they would know how to stop future attacks and understand why they were attacked in the past.
Amr Bassiouny, Egypt
100,000 civilians killed by air strikes in Iraq. Years of US sponsored Israeli murder in Palestine. Is it any wonder these people fight back? Who the hell is 'the West' to adopt the moral high ground?
Neal, United Kingdom
This video is mocking Bush's and Republican supporters "tough line on terrorism" as Bin Laden is now proven to be without doubt alive and very well. Unfortunately, the message seems to be once again flying over the heads of most Americans whom many will now probably go out and vote for their "tough line on terrorism" man, George W Bush.
David Dalic, Croatia
Bin Laden has once again pointed out the motivation for attacking the USA. Will they listen? Very little evidence of that happening so far. As long as America supports Israel unquestioningly, they provide legitimacy for others to prosecute equally barbaric policies against them.
Niall Macaulay, Scotland
This tape proves that Bush must go. Leave the Arab peoples be, and we assure our security.
Michael Chermesino, USA
It seems obvious to me that Bin Laden has released the tape in order to help Bush win the election. People will tend to vote for Bush out of fear or Kerry through reason. The mess Bush has made in Iraq has boosted Islamic Fundamentalism. Bush and Bin Laden Need each other.
It won't change my vote, and neither do I live in fear. Any American who lives in fear is a slave to it. By judging the reactions from a few pessimistic Americans who doubt Bin Laden less than our own government, I quickly give thanks for our electoral college system. I wouldn't want my safety in the hands of anyone who scares this easily.
George Bush told the reporters in March 2002 he wasn't that concerned about Bin Laden at all. Well, the videotape shows that Bin Laden cares about George Bush and wants him to be re-elected. After three years he is still not being caught by this Commander in Chief. By rushing into war with Iraq without a good plan to win the peace and all the mistakes being made George Bush has proven to be by far the best recruiting agent for Al Qaeda since years. For sure, Bin Laden wants George to be re-elected on Election Day.
Frits , The Netherlands
Like the witch come to the birthday party of Sleeping Beauty and the Phantom of the Opera come to the masquerade ball, Osama Bin Laden has reared his wicked head just before the American presidential election to remind us all that he is still out there hoping to kill us. Just in case we forgot.
I wonder how close the links are between Bush's team and Al Jazeera? Could it be that the TV station has had the tape for some time but Bush's team has good contacts with them and has persuaded them to withhold its release until just before the election to scare the undecided voters into the Bush camp?
Paddy Briggs, UK
It is obvious that Osama fears our military, regardless of who is leading them. It seems the real issue here is the legitimacy of our policing the world according to our beliefs and perceptions. Osama is 6ft 4 inch. and needs dialysis it is unbelievable to me that we could not find him if we had actually tried. Instead we used his actions to cover or justify our governments subversive motives for invasion.
Sean in Texas, USA
Is it just me - or do his words seem like the ramblings of a sick soul? I have re-read the excerpts and still cannot understand what he is really saying. Does he know? Isn't that even more terrifying than what he has said?
David Green, UK
Didn't Bush explain that the US army was hunting down Osama Bin Laden making him hide in caves like an animal? This is really not the impression I get when I see this picture of Osama Bin Laden. He appears like a king with his gold robe and his pristine turban. It looks as though Bin Laden is even more powerful than before.
It must have at least been viewed by a few "politicians" before being aired. I hope the tape will serve as a "catalyst" for us to go out and vote in large numbers, and elect a president who has the best chance of getting rid of this "menace"
M Khan, Texas, USA
I doubt this convoluted message will have any significant affect in these final moments before the final vote is cast (and the recount is commenced). I only have one question: Is OBL an avid watcher of Michael Moore documentaries? This "My Pet Goat" reference is curious.
Abdelghani Rachidi, Agdal, Rabat, Morocco
It is not clear that the bin Laden tape helps either Bush or Kerry. It is likely that those who are for Bush will interpret it as helping Bush and those who are pro-Kerry will argue the opposite. As for me, I will be voting Green. I was also not influenced by this new tape. However, I do believe that it is in the interest of the US to pay attention to what is said in this tape. The responses from Bush and Kerry are political and calculated to win the election. Your response should be to help make the world a more peaceful place. If you think that peace is the result of more war then it is likely that you will choose this path. If you oppose war, you may consider other avenues to security. I support neither Bush nor Kerry since like bin Laden they argue for violence.
Jim Barrett, USA
This is bad news for Kerry. There's nothing that Bush wants more than to keep people scared. Bin Laden helps keep the hysteria machine in motion.
America needs the world's watchful eyes on our election. I am afraid that "Bush" is going to hijack the elections in America. These latest videos are the Bush Administrations attempt to scare voters into voting for him. Please be our eyes and ears!
C. Proctor, Seattle, WA USA
Living in New York City I can't help wondering what else old Bin Laden had to say on the part of the tape that was not shown - and why wasn't it shown? It would be nice to know when the Arab media first got their hands on this. There is talk in the American press already the Qatar government was asked to pressure the media on this one. Pressure not to air? Or pressure to time the release? Is this the best Osama can do because there are no sleeper cells in the US? Or is it a go signal for the bad guys? I don't think I'll be on the subway on election day just in case. I don't think it will effect the election much. Most of us who like Kerry don't like him a lot but this just makes us feel Bush has to go all the more. It's the opposite effect for the Bush folks - they think he's the anti-terror leader to bank on. This election will be determined by which side gets the vote out - lets just hope its a safe day for us all.
Osama Bin Laden wants George Bush to win this election. George Bush represents a unilateral endless war, an alienation of traditional allies, the destruction of U.S.-Arab relations worldwide, and an ongoing attack on the Bill of Rights here at home. In terms of destroying America, Bush is Osama Bin Laden's dream come true.
Brent Norton, US
Now that Bin Laden has publicly acknowledged that he was the mastermind behind 9/11, what will the all the people who said it was a CIA/US government plot have to say ?
Rick Sanchez, USA
As if no one saw this coming. A blatant attempt to try to influence another election. Osama must think he is the ultimate puppet master. What it does is reinforce the point that Bush has failed miserably.
Bin Laden is saying "it's the foreign policy stupid!" (and it always has been). It means that the Iraq war is a double mistake for the USA - it lends rationale to extremists and distracts from the pursuit of al Qaeda.
I would love to see the full tape or to read the translation then I could have a legitimate reaction -until then I don't trust what is seen or read for me. I detest the censorship and propaganda here but mostly I detest the lack of real objective investigative journalism. It is a rare occurrence when we can believe what we see and read in the news. We have a very sorry state of affairs here in the US. If you have seen the full tape, then your reaction is probably more informed and therefore much better than mine.
Barb Szymanski, USA
The fact that bin Laden is in good health and is still at the helm of a vast organization can only hurt Bush. It puts the lie to the idea that the Bush Administration has al-Qaeda on the run. And Daniel, the Spanish voters didn't yield to terrorism. They voted to replace a government which 'lied' to them about that terrorism, saying that it was an act of ETA when they knew full well there was no evidence of that. Bush has also deceived the electorate, as this cheerful, composed, very-much-not-dead bin Laden proves at a time when the "war on terror" is supposedly Bush's top priority.
Will Gardella, USA
This Conveniently helps add to the myth that al-Qaeda is all powerful and everywhere, causing fear in the general population and playing straight into the hands of the politicians, like Bush and Blair, who need a perceived enemy to stay in power.
Quin MacLeod, UK
"I want you to vote for Kerry, so if you want to combat me, vote Bush!". This is the simple message that even a child can spot as pro-republican propaganda. Just the last rabbit extracted from Bush's hat at the right time. Are voters so stupid to swallow similar rubbish?
Won't have any effect on the election. The tape only shows what we are up against and why we need to take the battle to the Bin Laden and his pals.
To Glenn in the US who said that "...we need to take the battle to Bin Laden and his pals" Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't it that the point of the Afghan war? It doesn't seem to have done much, all it has done is made Afghanistan very insecure but the people have not changed. I mean what's the point in giving people the freedom to roam around if they first don't want it and second if they don't feel safe in doing so?
M El-Kadri, Canada
This tape will only reinforce our support of G.W. Bush
Boris, Nashville, USA
Surely this message highlights why it is important for American policy makers and citizens to consider WHY they are being targeted. These terrorists are NOT haters of freedom as we would be lead to believe, they simply believe they themselves should be free from the American and Western way of life.
Michael Jones, British citizen living in USA
Bin Laden's remarks show how poorly he understands America and Americans. His words will have no influence on the election or American policy. After all, if we won't listen to our friends and allies' advice we certainly aren't going to listen to his.
Scott W., USA
In my opinion Bin Laden wants to keep Bush in office... It is wise to have an ineffectual opponent which has done everything since 9/11 to isolate US and strengthen Al Qaeda.
I have been searching all of the cable news channels all day, and I still have not seen one viewing or transcript of the tape, just bits and pieces. Apparently the citizens of the United States, whom this tape was addressed to, are not worthy enough to see this tape and come to our own conclusions. It took me 5 different websites and about 45 minutes before I realized BBC news had a kind of comprehensive coverage, and that includes Al-Jazeera. Are Americans living behind "the gold curtain"? We sure are being censored enough.
Sun goddess, USA
This is no less than anyone would expect of one of their old mates; to help out in an hour of need and give a little bit of support. It does, though, remind me a little too much of superhero comics.
Regardless of how this affects the election, it is clear Bin Laden is far more honest than either US candidate in terms of his analysis of US foreign policy. As he pointed out in the video "Bush says and claims, that we hate freedom, let him tell us then, 'Why did we not attack Sweden?'" Until Americans acknowledge the reactionary effects of their foreign policy, the "War on Terror" will remain doomed to fail.
I think this tape is aimed more at the Palestinian people and not really the Americans. I think it quite strange that Osama shows up soon after Arafat appears to be on death's door, talking about rallying against the West on behalf of Palestinian people. I think he is on his own campaign trail to win the influence after the power vacuum when Arafat passes.
Perhaps I'm being too cynical but something just doesn't ring true about this tape. The quality is too good compared with previous tapes. The timing is very interesting, I had predicted that something would happen this week. Producing OBL in person would be too obvious ... is this the next best thing ... is it really him? Who has most to gain from this tape? It's all too much of a coincidence and is too slick for my liking
Paul, Milton Keynes
How convenient. This can only help Bush.
Sandra Rutter, USA
A blatantly obvious attempt to influence the US elections. A threat from Bin Laden is all that is required to provide a landslide victory for Bush.
This is clearly meant to have some effect on the election, but I can't see how this helps Bush. Bin Laden, after all, was a target of Bush and has never been brought to justice. These threats only mock Bush's claim that the American people are safer with him as president.
Daniel, Boston, USA
This is bad news for Bush - his public enemy number one is patently alive and well out there and taunting him. It won't go down well with US voters. But Kerry can't afford to crow too much, or he'll be accused of using Bin Laden to grab votes.
Kevin McElderry, France
Bin Laden seems to be trying to change himself into a politician. I think this is a sign of desperation on his part, since Afghanistan just had a successful election, and since his network is being dismantled piece by piece.
John C, New York, USA
Expect the see the American voter respond to this event in the direct opposite to the way the Spanish voter reacted to the Madrid bombings.
Daniel, Houston, USA