For the first time since the days before the 2004 US election, Osama Bin Laden has taped a public message, which was broadcast today on Al Jazeera. From CNN:
“Our mujahedeen were able to overcome all the security measures in European countries and you saw their operation in major European capitals,” the voice on the tape said.
“As for similar operations taking place in America, it’s only a matter of time. They are in the planning stages and you will see them in the heart of your land as soon as the planning is complete.”
If anyone out there thinks that we should relax or soften our vigilance, or that we can run homeland security activities as “business as usual,” this should serve as a wakeup call. And:
The message also offered a truce.
“It is obvious now that Bush has been misleading the people. It is better for you not to fight the Muslims on their territory and we offer a long-term truce.
“We are a nation that will not stab people in the back. We would like to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan. There is nothing wrong in this approach. We are aware that the warmongers are against this option,” the voice said.
I wouldn’t make much of this truce offer. I’d view it essentially as a PR feint by Bin Laden, trying to convince the Muslim world that he is a reasonable man, after his reputation has recently taken a beating in places like Jordan due to the terror attacks there last November.
The Counterterrorism Blog has some preliminary analysis of the tape. And I’ll link to more analysis from key experts here during the course of the day.
Update (1/19): This Reuters piece compiles some initial expert commentary on the tape.
Update 2 (1/19): The CIA confirms it’s definitely Bin Laden. This AP story notes the official White House response and includes analysis from Richard Clarke. And David Stephenson provides his perspective on this news here.
Update 3 (1/19): DHS says it has no plans to raise the terror alert level.
Update 4 (1/19): Jon Stewart on Bin Laden’s messages: “really just a matter of time before he gets a podcast.”