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Bin Laden promises attacks

first_img • AP Video: New bin Laden tape surfaces WASHINGTON — The CIA determined Thursday that the voice on a tape claiming preparation for an al-Qaida attack on the United States was that of Osama bin Laden, an agency official said. The audio tape, played by the Arab television network Al-Jazeera, was the first public communication from the terror group’s leader since December 2004. “Following technical analysis of the Osama bin Laden tape aired today, the CIA assesses that it was the voice of Osama bin Laden,” said the agency official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak by name. The official provided no details about how the CIA concluded that the voice was that of bin Laden. The agency’s determination was sure to intensify the scrutiny that officials from the United States and other countries will give to the recording. Despite the tape, U.S. counterterror officials said they have seen no specific or credible intelligence to indicate an upcoming al-Qaida attack on the country. The Homeland Security Department has no immediate plans to raise the national terror alert, spokesman Russ Knocke said. Over the last year, there has been much speculation about bin Laden’s whereabouts and even whether he was still alive. The tape apparently provides no definitive answers to either question. However, a U.S. counterterror official said analysts had no reason to doubt an assessment by Al-Jazeera that the tape was recorded in the Islamic month that corresponds with December. The national threat level was at “yellow alert,” the middle of five stages, signifying an elevated risk of terror attacks. It has mostly been at yellow since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but has been raised to the orange “high alert” level seven times since then. Also Thursday, Vice President Dick Cheney warned that the United States still faced significant threats from a network of terrorists intent on establishing a radical Islamic empire throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East. In a luncheon speech at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative public policy think tank, Cheney insisted the U.S.-led war in Iraq was essential to combating that threat. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the United States will not let up in the war on terror despite the threats on the tape. “We do not negotiate with terrorists,” McClellan said. “We put them out of business.” While warning against downplaying the taped threat, officials at intelligence and law enforcement agencies said there has been no recent increase in “chatter” that can indicate that such an attack is imminent. The officials discussed the tape on condition of anonymity because intelligence analysis is usually sensitive and because the tape was still being examined. “If there is any actionable intelligence, we will act on it,” McClellan said. President Bush was told about the audiotape shortly after an appearance on the economy in Sterling, Va., McClellan said. Intelligence authorities were examining why bin Laden would be speaking out after more than a year of letting his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, serve as al-Qaida’s public face in statements and other communications. One official speculated that it might be an attempt to show supporters that bin Laden is still around. For More Infocenter_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more