CAIRO — Al Qaeda is preparing for attacks in the United States but the terror group is offering a conditional truce to help rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan, according to excerpts of an audiotape aired Thursday on Al-Jazeera, purporting to be the voice of Usama bin Laden.
The voice on the tape said heightened security measures in the United States are not the reason there have been no attacks there since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Instead, the reason is “because there are operations that need preparations, and you will see them,” he said, according to one translation. “Our people are able to infiltrate through your security measures no matter how strong.”
“As for the delay in similar operations in America is not because of your security measures; operations are being prepared and you will see them in your homes,” he added.
The voice on the tape also proposed a “long-term truce” with the U.S. military.
“We do not mind offering you a long-term truce with fair conditions that we adhere to,” he said. “We are a nation that God has forbidden to lie and cheat. So both sides can enjoy security and stability under this truce so we can build Iraq and Afghanistan, which have been destroyed in this war. There is no shame in this solution, which prevents the wasting of billions of dollars that have gone to those with influence and merchants of war in America.”
The speaker did not give conditions for a truce in the excerpts aired. The United States has placed a $25 million bounty on bin Laden’s head.
The speaker said President Bush should have paid attention to polls that showed most Americans want U.S. troops withdrawn from Iraq instead of saying that it’s better to fight the terrorists on their land rather than on American soil.
“My answer to this is that the war in Iraq is raging with no calm and operations in Afghanistan are on the rise and the Pentagon numbers indicate that your casualties are increasing in addition to the enormous material losses,” the voice said.
“Reality shows that the war on America and its allies is no longer limited to Iraq as he claims, on the contrary Iraq has become a magnetic point for qualified powers and the Mujahideen have been able time after time to breach all the security measures set by coalition countries and the evidence is the bombings you have seen in some major European capitals of this coalition.”
Al-Jazeera’s editor-in-chief, Ahmed al-Sheik, would not comment on when or where the tape was received. He said the full tape was 10 minutes long. The station aired four excerpts with what it “considered newsworthy,” he said, but would not say what was on the remainder.
Al-Sheik said the tape seemed to have been made “recently” but would not saw what led him to that conclusion.
U.S. intelligence officials did have advance warning that the Arabic satellite network had an audiotape alleged to be from the Al Qaeda ringleader. U.S. officials are anxious to hear the tape in its entirety and to read the translated transcript. They are searching for specific date references in the tape to determine when the message may have been recorded. There is also speculation within the Pentagon and throughout the intelligence community that bin Laden may be dead.
An FBI spokesman said the CIA is working to determine if the tape is authentic, and if there are any indications as to when it was made. The spokesman said that if the tape is real — and unless there’s an overt threat — there’s not much more the FBI can do for security, since “how much more can you ratchet things up?”
FOX News contacts around Pakistan and Afghanistan say they were fully expecting some kind of communication from a top Al Qaeda figure following the alleged U.S. attack last Friday on a Pakistan compound where it was believed some high-profile Al Qaeda operatives were invited to dinner. But it was believed that that communication may come from bin Laden’s top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
There has been no audiotape from bin Laden broadcast since December 2004. In that recording, he endorsed Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi as his deputy in Iraq and called for a boycott of Iraqi elections.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the longest bin Laden had gone without issuing a new public statement — audio or video — was just over nine months.
“I think he’s trying to get people activated around the world,” former CIA officer Ron Marks told FOX News. “The [Al Qaeda] leadership on the field is pretty much fighting on its own in this time, especially in Iraq, where, while they embrace him, they’re pretty much running their own operations.”
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace told FOX News in an interview Thursday that even if bin Laden is alive, his terror network has been weakened and is on the run, and many of his top deputies have been killed.