Return to Transcripts main page
CNN BREAKING NEWS
Al-Jazeera Airs Purported New Audio Tape of Bin Laden
Aired January 19, 2006 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: That's all the time we have for this AMERICAN MORNING. Daryn Kagan at the CNN Center to take it from here.
Daryn, good morning.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to both of you. You have a great day in Washington, D.C. and New York City.
We are minutes away from a speech by President Bush talking up the economy amid concerns following the latest inflation report. Live coverage of the president's speech from Sterling, Virginia, as we look at a live picture from there. That is just minutes away.
Also this hour, a mother's plea for the safe return of her daughter held captive in Iraq. Those stories and more ahead on CNN LIVE TODAY.
First, though, let's check on other stories happening right "Now in the News."
Police say a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in Tel Aviv a short time ago. Emergency medical workers report between 10 to 12 people were wounded. The bombing took place at the city's old bus station. A couple of other suicide attacks have happened there in the past. This is the first suicide bombing in Israel this year.
Almost simultaneous bombings ripped across a busy Baghdad street today. Police tell CNN that a car bomb targeting an Iraqi police patrol exploded first, followed by an explosion in a crowded coffee shop. At least 15 people were killed and another 46 were wounded.
Two nations facing possible showdowns with the U.N. are making a public show of solidarity. Iran's president traveled to Syria earlier today to bolster and discuss the regional alliance between the two countries. Iran is facing international heat for resuming its nuclear program. Syria, for not cooperating in the investigation of an assassination in Lebanon.
U.S. military officials say a fire broke out this morning in the Pentagon. It was never a serious threat. They say it was contained to a restaurant within the building and was quickly extinguished by fire crews. Smoke, however, did travel through some of the ventilation system and prevented employees from immediately returning to work in about one-fifth of the building.
In Eastern Alabama, as many as 50 homes have been evacuated from a mile-wide radius surrounding a train wreck. Last night, a train carrying hazardous materials rear-ended another train on the same track. Cars from both trains derailed, though continued air monitoring has shown there is no chemical leakage so far.
Former President Gerald Ford could be released from a California hospital today. The 92-year-old is said to be responding well to the intravenous antibiotics that he's been receiving for pneumonia. Ford was admitted to the hospital on Saturday.
And good morning to you on this Thursday morning. I'm Daryn Kagan at CNN Center in Atlanta.
We're going to begin the hour with a mother's plea to those holding her daughter hostage in Iraq. A group is threatening to kill freelance journalist Jill Carroll tomorrow unless jailed Iraqi women are released. In an exclusive interview on CNN's AMERICAN MORNING, Carroll's mother had this message for her daughter's abductors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY BETH CARROLL, HOSTAGE'S MOTHER: To her captors I say that Jill's welfare depends upon you. And so we call upon you to ensure that Jill is returned safely home to her family who needs her and loves her. Jill's father, sister and I ask and encourage the persons holding our daughter to work with Jill to find a way to contact us with the honorable intent of discussing her release.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Our interview is being simulcast on CNN International, which airs in every single Middle Eastern country. So if her captors are listening, what do you want them to know? What do you want to say to them?
CARROLL: Well, that they've picked the wrong person. If they're looking for somebody who is an enemy of Iraq, Jill is just the opposite and her Iraqi friends can attest to that. And I think she was a wonderful ambassador -- is a wonderful ambassador to the United States for the Iraqi and the Iraqi people.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: And if she can hear you, or see you, what do you want her to know?
CARROLL: Well, what she already knows. Those things have been said and she knows that we love her and we support her. She knows that we can be strong for her and we know that she's a strong woman. And that her strength of character and her mind will get her through this.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: A number of prominent people have come forward also joining in the calls for her release. And a number of Iraqis as well. More today, actually, we've heard about. That must hearten you.
CARROLL: Tremendously. There are so many people on the ground in Iraq, her Iraqi friends, friends in the press corps, Iraqi officials who have seen the injustice and the horror of this brutal act and have stepped up, at some risk to themselves to speak out for Jill. And I think to speak out for the Iraqi people who don't want to be represented to the world as people who are supportive of this kind of horrible brutality.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: How do you, as a mother, hold up?
CARROLL: Well, shock. I think that I'm in shock right now. And I know that falling apart is not going to help my daughter. And I can say her father and her sister are the same way. And I think when this is resolved, we'll all fall apart. But for now, I think it gives me a lot of comfort to know that if I can stay strong, her father can stay strong, her sister and all her relatives can stay strong, this is good genetic stock and Jill is strong, too, in captivity.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: We heard that about her. Good luck to you. We're hoping for the very best, along with you and everybody else, as well.
CARROLL: Thank you.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Mary Beth Carroll, thank you for talking with us this morning. We truly appreciate it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAGAN: The U.S. military, by the way, says that of the 14,000 people currently detained in Iraq, only eight are women. An Iraqi justice ministry spokesman says six women are due for release in the days ahead. That release, they insist, is not related to the kidnappers demands.
And this just in to CNN from the al-Jazeera television network. That network says it has received a new audiotape from Osama bin Laden. It plans to air parts of the message. Our own experts here at CNN are going to listen to it, and analyze it and we will make the decision on whether to air it and tell you what is in it just ahead. But we did want you to know that al-Jazeera is saying it has received what they are saying is a new audiotape from Osama bin Laden. More on that just ahead.
President Bush today focusing on an issue that hits close to home for most Americans, the economy. The president is set to speak in just a few minutes at a moving and storage company in Virginia. And we will bring that to you live when it happens. The president's speech follows a new report showing how skyrocketing energy prices have put the squeeze on American's pocketbooks. While we wait for the president's remarks. We want to bring in Andy Serwer from CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING" and "Fortune" magazine.
ANDY SERWER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Daryn.
KAGAN: From the business world, there will probably be a lot of business leaders saying, all right, President Bush, good to be talking about the economy.
SERWER: That's right, Daryn. You know, it's interesting. I talked to a prominent business leader recently who's a supporter of the president and he was just completely surprised that the president has not been pounding the table more about the economy because the economy is actually in pretty good shape. And . . .
KAGAN: Andy, let me jump in here because it looks like the president's getting started.
KAGAN: If you can stay with us, that would be great.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thanks for having me. Please, be seated. Thanks for coming to say hello. What I thought I'd do is share some thoughts with you and then answer questions for a while.
Before I do, I want to thank Randy (ph) and the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce for setting this up. I appreciate you all coming. I've got something to say and I hope you do, as well, as we have a conversation about how to make sure this economy of ours continues to stay robust and strong so people can find work and realize their dreams.
Before I talk about the economy, I do want to say Laura sends her regrets. She came home last night about 12:45. She had just came back from Africa where she and my daughter, Barbara, and Condi Rice went to witness the swearing in of the first elected woman president on the continent of Africa. And they had a great trip. Said it was an inspiring inauguration. I just wish she would have tiptoed in a little quieter. She's doing great. And, you know, one of the best things about the presidency is how close our family has remained and how wonderful a wife and mother she is. And the American people are getting to see that.
Speaking about families, Chuck Kune's (ph) family is pretty remarkable. Turns out his mother works for him. That's the opposite in my family. I need a little advice on how to restructure the chain of command in the Bush family.
But I love being here in a place where a guy who had a dream at age 17 years old, that's how old Chuck was when he started to act on his entrepreneurial instincts, said, if I work hard, and if I'm smart and if I figure out what the market wants, I can build something that I call my own. And 23 years later we're standing, obviously, in what has become a very successful business enterprise. Successful because he is thriving and expanding. Successful because he has provided people a good place to make a living. And so want to thank you, Chuck, for being a great entrepreneurial. I want to thank the folks who work here for setting this deal up.
I'm here to talk about how to make sure that America is the place where the entrepreneur can succeed. That's what we're really here to discuss, isn't it? And it's a wonderful place to have that discussion.
Before we get there, I want to thank the attorney general, Bob McDonnell, of the state of Virginia, the commonwealth of Virginia, for being here. Appreciate you.
He's sitting next to an old governor buddy of mine, Bill Graves. He was the governor of Kansas during the time I was the governor of Texas. And I used to remind him he made a really smart move when he married a woman from Texas. You're still married, aren't you? Yes. Good move. It's the best deal that's ever happened to you. It's great to see you. Bill is the president and CEO of the American Trucking Association.
I want to thank all the other state and local officials who are here. But, most importantly, I want to thank the small business owners who are here. I was interested to find out that Loudoun County is the home of 10,000 small businesses, 80 percent of which have got 10 employees or less. Pretty strong isn't it. Amazing.
Probably one of the reasons why you're growing so fast is that people realize this is a good place to take risk and that's really the role of government when you think about it. I like to tell people the role of government is not to try to create wealth. That's not the role of government. Oh, sure, the role of government is to help the poor and help the elderly with medicine, but it's not to try to create overall wealth. The role of government is to create an environment in which people are willing to risk capital, to take risk. An environment in which people are willing to work to realize their dreams, just like here at this trucking company. That's the fundamental policy, the principle on which I'm basing my decisions as I ask Congress to think about how to make sure the economic growth that is now prevalent in America continues.
We have got a robust economy. But it wasn't necessarily going to be that way. When you think about what we've been through, it kind of helps point to what good policy may be. We've been through a stock market correction. We've been through corporate scandals which affected the confidence of people. We have been through a terrorist attack which hurt our economy. We have been through war. We have had significant natural disasters. All of which could have sent us into a downward spiral had we not put good policy in place.
We've overcome these issues and I believe one of the main reasons why is because we let people keep more of their own money. I asked Congress for tax relief. I believe strongly that if the entrepreneurs of America had more money in their pocket, they will use it to expand their businesses. I believe very strongly that if a consumer has more money in their pocket, they will demand extra goods and services. And when somebody demands an extra good and service in a market economy, somebody's going to produce it to meet that demand.
And so I went to Congress and said, look, we got problems. Let's be aggressive about how we address it. Let's cut the taxes on everybody. I remember the debate. The said only some people should have tax cuts.
So we lowered rates for everybody. If you're going to have tax relief, everybody who pays taxes ought to get relief. You ought not to try to play favorites with who gets it and who doesn't get it. We mitigated the damage of the marriage penalty. I always thought I was a little contradictory to have a tax code that discouraged marriage. It seems like to me we ought to encourage marriage in this country and the tax code out to encourage that.
KAGAN: We're going to get out of President Bush's speech. He's speaking in Sterling, Virginia, today on the importance of small business on the economy. We'll get back to what President Bush has to say in a bit. But first, there is urgent breaking news we need to tell you about.
There is a new audiotape from Osama bin Laden that has been released to the al-Jazeera network. They have aired it. Our people have listened to it with what is on the tape and the significance of it. Let's bring in our Nic Robertson who today is in Washington, D.C.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Daryn.
One thing we need to say at this point is, it's not confirmed that this is Osama bin Laden on the audiotape. It does appear to sound like him. The message, listening to it, is a very clear message, the people of the United States, many levels, saying that President Bush is misleading the people of the United States. That they need to get out of Iraq, get out of Afghanistan. He warns that they will widen the war out of Iraq, out of Afghanistan, take it to the rest of the world. Threatens the possibility of attacks in the United States.
When listening to this, one is listening to it to see if there were any time clues for when this audio taped message was recorded. The last time Osama bin Laden had a message, it was in October 2004. This message appears to make reference to the London bombings last July. He talks about explosions across Europe. Says there will be such explosions in the United States. That al Qaeda's mujahadin, as he calls them, are currently planning and he said expect to hear more about that.
He sounds to be, if it is Osama bin Laden, he sounds to be in reasonable health. The other thing he makes reference to are opinion polls about President Bush. Now perhaps that is another indication of when this audiotape may have been recorded. He says in these opinion polls, most people in the United States he said now want President Bush to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq.
So he sounds, if it is him, reasonably healthy, making direct threat against the United States, talking about impending attacks. And the audiotape appears or at least sounds as if it's being recorded perhaps within about the last six months.
KAGAN: All right, Nic, I have a series of questions for you, all of which are going to be based on the assumption that it is Osama bin Laden on this tape. First of all, what do you make of the timing of releasing of this tape?
ROBERTSON: It's very interesting. It's been released coming right after this attack in Pakistan that apparently just missed his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. There is no direct reference on this tape to that attack. It appears almost as if this tape has been sitting on the shelf, al Qaeda waiting for an opportune, the right moment to release it. And now they've chosen to do that.
It's not clear if it is in direct relation to the attack last Friday in Pakistan. But the timing that it comes out so soon after, an indication perhaps here that al Qaeda now wants to get its message out. And part of the message also says that we're on top, we're winning, you're not.
KAGAN: Well, and there have been questions about Osama bin Laden, whether he even survived the Pakistan earthquake back in October. There have been questions since then.
ROBERTSON: Absolutely. There have been questions about his health. Intelligence officials have many times knocked down the notion that Osama bin Laden has a kidney problem. That indeed the most recent speculation from one source who claimed to be knowledgeable was that Osama bin Laden had, in fact, died of organ failure. It seems that this -- by this audiotape at least, that he has been alive, at least in the last six months.
KAGAN: And when we talk about threatening -- when he talks about threatening new attacks on the United States. In the past, what has been the linkage, either in terms of following through with those threats or, and in addition to that, the time line?
ROBERTSON: There certainly has been a correlation in the more distant past between bin Laden or Zawahiri making claims, makes statements, talking about the possibility of other attacks. There have other attacks have then followed. More recently, as we have heard, many statements coming out from his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri. We've heard other statements from bin Laden. Those have not been followed so closely by attacks. Many a times it appears to be bluster. But certainly, for intelligence officials, this will be taken very seriously. They cannot rule out the possibility, again, that this could be some kind of message to his supporters.
KAGAN: I thought it was interesting that you pointed out, October 2004. So well over a year ago. Has it really been that long since we've heard from Osama bin Laden?
ROBERTSON: The best analysis that we have at the moment, at least material that's been made public, that's correct.
KAGAN: All right. Nic Robertson live in Washington, D.C., thank you.
Want to bring in our Security Correspondent David Ensor.
David, what will officials once indeed if they do verify that this is Osama bin Laden, what do they do with this tape?
DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you say, first of all, Daryn, they do have to verify that it's his voice. The lions share of the tapes that have been released, audio and video, have been genuine, but there were one or two fakes put in there by others. So that will be job one.
Then, as Nic mentioned, job two is to figure out when this was recorded. There aren't any really recent time references on the tape. So it might not be brand-new. And I suppose the assumption of analysts will be that it was put out right after this matter with his deputy being struck to try and show that al Qaeda, at least in the form of its top leader, is alive and well.
Very chilling language that I think our viewers should hear the exact wording of, Daryn. He talks about strikes in Europe. And then he says, and this is a quote from our translator, "as for America, it is only a matter of time. Planning for strikes," he says, "is underway" and "you will see them soon."
So, obviously, this is a direct threat of attacks against the United States, against the mainland. And that will get the attention of intelligence and law enforcement officials throughout the U.S. government and, presumably, people around the country.
Now, in the past, threats have been made. They're not always carried through. But, still, some of them have been. And that language will certainly get people's attention in the intelligence community.
KAGAN: You know, the release, again, -- well, first of all, I'd like to go ahead and welcome our viewers that are joining us from all around the world on CNN International, watching us here on CNN. Once again, the news is, is that an audiotape purportedly to be from Osama bin Laden has made its way to the al-Jazeera network. They have aired it. We are looking at it and bringing you information that comes from it as we wait to verify that it is indeed from Osama bin Laden.
But once again, as you just heard David Ensor reporting, the number one message is that on this tape, the person claiming to be Osama bin Laden threatens future attacks on the United States, very much like the ones that the world has just seen in Europe in recent months.
David, I want to go back to you on the idea of the cat and mouse game that always comes up when these videotapes, whether it's from Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri. When this comes up, it's so frustrating to those here in the U.S. How can they be able to get the tapes out and that route can't be traced backwards to find Osama bin Laden or his lieutenants.
ENSOR: Well, it's assumed by people in counterterrorism that these tapes go through quite a few hands before they reach al-Jazeera. And even if you try, if you're an intelligence officers trying to track it back and you manage to get to the first guy, they are drops. They are people picking up things, not even knowing what they're getting along the way. So it's not that difficult to create a chain of custody, if you will, that's very, very hard to trace back to the original.
That said, every time one of these tapes is put out, the leadership of al Qaeda is taking a calculated risk. It does make it easier for intelligence officials from various countries to try and track back to the origins of the tape, if you will. And clearly, the missile attacks of the last six weeks or so that apparently the CIA has been conducting on sites in Northwest Pakistan are having an impact on the al Qaeda leadership.
As we've been reporting this morning, a number of top al Qaeda operatives may have been killed, although there's no confirmation on who may have been -- who exactly was killed last Friday in the Damadola strike. So even if Zawahiri wasn't killed, it looks as if four to eight al Qaeda operatives were. Clearly that is probably on the mind of whoever put this tape out. And as Nic mentioned earlier, it's quite possible that this tape was recorded some time ago by Osama bin Laden and was being held by others for an appropriate day to put it out.
KAGAN: And let's go ahead and bring Nic Robertson back in.
Nic, if you could talk about what you know about the process of how these tapes somehow make it from Osama bin Laden to some place like al-Jazeera and the time span that it usually takes. Because it's not usually a quick turnaround, like an event happens early in a week and then later in the week the tape is released.
ROBERTSON: I think that's perhaps one of -- it is, as David says, one of the hardest things for intelligence officials to do is to try and follow that chain of custody, drops, perhaps people passing the tape off from one to other on motorbikes in one of those busy, crowded Pakistani cities. Who knows how they do it.
When one looks at the time line, last summer, after those attacks in London, after those bombing attacks in early July in London, Ayman al-Zawahiri had a message out about a month later that made direct reference to those bombing, saying the British Prime Minister Tony Blair was responsible. So, in that case, it took about a month from the incident for al Qaeda to decide to respond, to record the tape, to get the tape where they wanted it to, to al-Jazeera.
So perhaps the time line has been complex here because of the events in Pakistan on last Friday, where it seems that al Qaeda was really under threat and potentially losing that number two player. And one of the things we heard on this tape today if, in fact, it is Osama bin Laden and, again, we don't know at this stage. It's not been confirmed. But one of the points that is made by Osama bin Laden on this tape is that al Qaeda is winning. That the United States is losing. And if anything is a reference to the events of the last week where al Qaeda really seemed to be losing, that could be.
But again, going back to a time determination on this particular recording, perhaps the best we can do is look to the reference to the bombings in Europe and perhaps that is a reference, not just a Madrid bombing of 2004, but to those bombings last summer in July in London.
KAGAN: So when we first hear about the tape, we hear in the states, the first thing that really catches our attention, obviously, are these threatening words of promising more attacks for here in the United States. But, Nic, as someone who has covered this story and covered Osama bin Laden for so long, when you have a chance to sit down and listen to a tape, once it's been verified that it is Osama bin Laden, what are you listening for, for clues in advancing this story?
ROBERTSON: I think the biggest clues, where are they going next. And the clue here is very clear. That Osama bin Laden, again, if it is him, says that they're going to take the war out of Iraq and out of Afghanistan. And we have seen a number of attacks against the United States and its allies in Afghanistan rise over the last year or so. Obviously, there are many, many, many attacks going on in Iraq. But the threat now to take it out. To broaden it.
We have seen bin Laden's henchmen, if you will, in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, try to take his attacks out of Iraq. We saw the attacks in Jordan in November last year in the hotel. The four suicide bombers attacking a number of hotels in Amman, Jordan, the capital of Jordan. We have seen Zarqawi claimed an attack in Lebanon as well. So perhaps there are indications that this has already been put in place. But by far the most threatening component of all of that was the threat to bring the war to the United States and that the attacks would happen here.
So when you look and listen to these tapes, you're listening for what are the indications, what are their plans next. And if this is a message to his followers more than it is a message to the rest of the world, although it does seem to be aimed at the people of the United States. This is a clear message, ratchet up the attacks.
KAGAN: You know, picking up on a point that you're saying there, Nic. Something that we saw when those attacks happened in Jordan and receiving reports of what's taking place in Iraq. Because so many civilians have become victims there. Where we're getting reports that the people of those countries saying enough. Not wanting to cooperate and not supporting insurgents anymore. And perhaps that's why the message and the need to move it outside of those places.
ROBERTSON: Quite possibly. And there is a huge backlash and the Muslim world against these attacks. They see and the people of Jordan realize, and people told us when we were there, they said, look, we see now what's happening. It's very clear. There's no illusion left here. These people don't care about civilians. They don't care about normal Muslims. They're quite happy to kill them.
And when we're talked to intelligence experts around the Middle East and if one looks at Saudi Arabia, as well, al Qaeda are a set of real extremists that believe in a very, very small, smally defined part of their faith and they believe that many people, many Muslims, just don't measure up to their standards of the faith and therefore they can be killed as well. So it's a real extreme group. And that's how many people in the Middle East see them.
KAGAN: Want to mention to our viewers as we look ahead with the day, things that we're looking for, the verification that this would be Osama bin Laden on this tape that's been released to the al-Jazeera network.
Also, Vice President Dick Cheney had a previously planned speech on the war on terror and that was scheduled for two hours from now. That speech is still going on. And you'll see that live right here on CNN. And, of course, we'll be looking and listening to the vice president to see if he has any comments about this new tape.
Let's bring David Ensor back in.
David, your thoughts.
ENSOR: Well, a couple of things, Daryn.
I mean perhaps the most important message of this tape is that Osama bin Laden is still alive, if that is indeed his voice. As was mentioned earlier, we haven't heard -- haven't seen a videotape of him since October of 2004. There was an audiotape in December of 2004. But that is a long time ago. And analysts were beginning to argue -- there's even one Australian academic, who said he is dead. Well, if this tape is genuine, clearly he is not. That is the first message.
Secondly, it's an address to the American people. He's making very blunt threats about terrorism he say respect will take place on American soil. But he's also offering, as he puts it, a truce, and calling for American forces to leave Iraq and Afghanistan.
So there are a lot of messages here. We should point out one other thing, is that Al Jazeera does not appear to have broadcast the entire tape. They broadcast chunks of it with little commentary in between. It's not clear whether they broadcast the whole tape. It is possible that there may be, for example, parts of the tape that we haven't heard from yet that would mark when it was recorded in a more definitive way.
KAGAN: Going back to your original first point, David, that the first thing that has to happen is the government has to verify this is indeed Osama bin Laden. Who does that, and how do they do that?
ENSOR: The Central Intelligence Agency does that, Daryn. And they do it, first and foremost, by comparing the sound recording with other known recordings of Osama bin Laden. They have a lot of them. They also have Arabic speakers who work for them and who know his voice very, very well. I've listened to it for years now. So they'll be able to say, I should imagine, before the day is out, rather definitively whether that is in fact him.
And as I say, once or twice there have been tapes put out that were fake.
KAGAN: From within the intelligence, community besides the symbolism of what Osama bin Laden represents as being the leader of al Qaeda. How important is it to them whether he is alive or dead?
ENSOR: They want him dead, obviously. And you've seen in the last six weeks or so a newly aggressive approach by the CIA, employing predator drones, armed with Hellfire missiles, that have been used to strike remote locations in Pakistan three times that I'm aware of.
KAGAN: There are unconfirmed reports that manned aircraft have also used in the most recent attack. So clearly, the CIA Is going on the offensive against the al Qaeda leadership in northwest Pakistan. They want to wrap up Osama bin Laden, Ayman Al Zawahiri and the rest of the central leadership of Al Qaeda.
ENSOR: That said, they recognize that even if they succeed in doing that, al Qaeda is now an ideology; it's not just a terrorist group. There are many others who may have never met or had anything to do with these leaders in northwest Pakistan who will carry on blowing things up and attacking Western targets, whether those people survive or not -- Daryn.
KAGAN: On that note, let's bring Nic Robertson back in. Let's talk about that area of the world of northwest Pakistan, along the Afghan border there. What's it like? And why is it so difficult to find somebody who would be hiding out there, if you know in a specific region that's where they are.
ROBERTSON: Beyond the mountainous terrain and there are often in many parts of the area no good roads and some of it is covered in forests, which makes aerial surveillance tough.
One of the hardest things it makes to operate there, even for the Pakistani government, even for the Pakistani army, is this is an area that is dominated by tribes. And in areas like that, it's very hard to infiltrate because people will recognize outsiders. Not many strangers go there. Whether or not they are Afghans or Pakistanis, they will generally recognize outsiders passing through their areas. Loyalty to the tribe. That information will be passed up through the tribal chain to the sort of head men in the areas, if you will, so it makes it sort of both from the terrain and from the sort of -- and from the people you encounter there a very difficult area to operate in. If somebody like Osama bin Laden, Ayman Al Zawahiri, has won the confidence, won the support as we know they have done in Afghanistan and some parts of Pakistan, won the support of those people in the areas, and it can be just a small group of people. They can be incredibly well protect bid this very extensive and strong tribal support network. These tribes have been there for generations, for hundreds of years. They haven't become urbanized. They haven't changed in the way our societies have. Loyalties are different there.
KAGAN: And as we've seen in the difficulty of trying to pinpoint a bombing, you get it wrong, and you take out innocent lives.
ROBERTSON: And that will have an impact in that area, very likely that people will be -- we've seen it demonstrated in the demonstrations last week in Pakistan against the United States, against Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, that people become very angry and bitter. It's something that works against intelligence efforts in the area, trying to coerce people in that tribal structure to give information, to break those tribal bonds and pass information to intelligence officials that's going to help catch these men.
KAGAN: Let's go, because I'm sure people have been joining us -- thank you very much -- I'm sure people have been joining us as this news has been breaking.
So, Nic, let's go back to the top here and talk about this new tape, a new audiotape purported to be from Osama bin Laden with some very threatening messages for those of us here in the United States. Why don't you fill in more?
ROBERTSON: Well, he threatens to bring attacks to the United States. He threatens that the attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan will be broadened and taken beyond there. He says that the people of the United States are being misled by President Bush. We have heard that from him before. But he talks about polls. He says that in the polls, most people in the United States want U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq.
Perhaps the key indicator on this tape as to when it may have been recorded -- and. again, we do have to emphasize that it is not confirmed at this stage that this is the voice of Osama bin Laden. It's being studied, but we don't know for sure that this time, that the key detail that may tell us when it was recorded, a reference to bombings in Europe. That does seem to imply he's aware when the tape was recorded. The bombings in London last July, the Madrid bombings before that.
The last videotape from Osama bin Laden was October 2004, the last two audio recordings, December 2004. So this is perhaps the most recent recording, if it proves to be Osama bin Laden.
But the real headline coming out of this, a threat to the people of the United States -- Daryn.
KAGAN: And as we look to see the credibility of this tape, in past Osama bin Laden tapes doesn't he usually offer more specific clues in terms of timelines? He usually references specific events?
ROBERTSON: There are usually key details in there that will give you an idea when the tape was recorded. This almost seems to be very generic, if you will. It sort of seems to lead the way that perhaps al Qaeda planned more attacks in Europe, and some of those didn't come off. That's not clear.
On this one, it almost seems as if perhaps because of those attacks in Pakistan, or the attack in Pakistan last week, to try to get his deputy, Ayman Al Zawahiri, perhaps because al Qaeda seems now to be on the back foot, this tape that was recorded some time ago, sitting on the shelf, if you will, has been rushed out to Al Jazeera, who has broadcast parts of this tape, hasn't broadcast the whole tape.
Again, a key detail in here that perhaps indicates that it was on the shelf but rushed out or may have been recorded very recently. We just don't know, referencing that Al Qaeda is winning, that the United States is not winning, and perhaps that is a reference to the attack last Friday.
But if that were the case, this would be the quickest ever we have seen a tape rushed out from al Qaeda. Normally it takes them at least several weeks, perhaps a month, as it did reacting to the London bombings last summer.
KAGAN: The turnaround seems different, as you're pointing out.
David Ensor, let's bring you back in here and talk about what might be on this tape. We might be listening to one thing, as Nic was pointing out. It sounds rather generic to us here in the West. But is it possible that there are hidden messages in there for supporters?
ENSOR: You know, that can't be ruled out. And clearly the Muslim audience is a very important one to Osama bin Laden. But in this tape, he describes himself as addressing the American people. And he's both asking for things and making threats to the United States. He talks about how, as he puts it, "our Mujahadin have been able to overcome all the security measures." And he refers to the attacks in Europe that Nic was just talking about. And then says, "as for operations in America, it's only a matter of time. They are under way, and you will see them soon." That's the kind of language that is designed to get people's attention here in the country. No doubt it will. Certainly it's getting attention over at the National Counter- Terrorism Center, the Central Intelligence Agency and other agencies around the government that are fighting the war on terrorism on the frontlines, if you will.
It is also possible that, as Nic said, this tape may have been on the shelf for a while. There aren't any immediate time references, really immediate, last couple of months. It may have been on the shelf a while and been held, ready for a moment like this, when al Qaeda may feel that they need to show they're still alive and kicking after having taken a pretty heavy hit last Friday.
KAGAN: David, are you able to talk about the linkage in the past, from past Osama bin Laden tapes, and then attacks that were actually carried out?
ENSOR: You know, I don't have it all organized in my head. I can just say this, really. A number of the tapes by bin Laden and Zawahiri in which they made threats to specific targets have been followed by attacks on those targets.
At the same time, there have been tapes put out which make specific threats in which there's been no follow-up at all. So it may just be something where these two icons of al Qaeda, if you will, are calling on people to make attacks on specific locations, but are no longer in a position to organize them themselves, or it could be that they actually have operatives in the United States plotting attacks that will be taking place soon.
We -- unfortunately the U.S. government doesn't have the luxury of guessing that it's the less worrying alternative. They have to go on -- you may see the U.S. government go on a higher level of alert as a result of this tape. Certainly, they will be watching ever more closely, listening in ever more closely to any kind of eavesdropping that they can do to try to figure out what's behind these threats.
KAGAN: A couple of points, follow-up points on what you had to say, talking about these agencies like the CIA and NSA, getting their attention. Clearly it is not news to them that the United States is under the potential threat of attack.
ENSOR: Not news, but as I said, there have been times when threats made by bin Laden or Zawahiri are acted upon within a month or two. So there is some correlation there, whether it's direct or indirect. So when they make -- when he very specifically talks about plots already underway against the United States, the domestic homeland of the United States, that's going to get a lot of people's attention.
That's going to raise the level of resources that are put to the problem -- they're already a lot of them, but they're going to be increasing them -- to try to figure out what he's talking about. Who might be here plotting something? Are there sleeper cells in the United States?
And you know, we've had all the discussions in the last few weeks because of various news stories and leaks about surveillance, domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency about interrogation techniques of al Qaeda prisoners. This tape reminds us why such, in the view of many, extreme measures have been taken by the U.S. government. There's a real concern that al Qaeda may yet be able to pull off a large scale attack against this country.
KAGAN: Well and you can bet we expect to hear more of that in less than hours from now. 12:30 p.m. Eastern, Vice President Dick Cheney had a previously scheduled speech on the war on terror. And I'm sure that he'll be making reference, or I would bet he'd be making reference to what we see today, as you were saying David, as an example of why so many people are concerned about what might be taking place.
You know, there's an element of -- a catch-22 in terms of power here, David, that what happens with Osama bin Laden. On one hand, we give him attention. As you saw, we switched from a speech from the president of the United States and turned over our coverage to talking about Osama bin Laden. You want to give the coverage and you want the information, and yet, you're giving him a certain element of power that only emboldens him and that cause.
ENSOR: Well that's right. And it's one of the problems with being a journalist. You have to weigh these things. But we also know our audience is going to want to know as quickly as possible what they can about this series of threats and musings by the al Qaeda leader. He's trying to keep himself from becoming irrelevant by putting out tapes. And he's certainly succeeded today -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Nic Robertson, let's go ahead and bring you in. Osama bin Laden, far from becoming irrelevant to al Qaeda?
ROBERTSON: It seems to be at this stage. And certainly people I've talked to, one man who knew Osama bin Laden for many years I talked to fairly recently told me that if Osama bin Laden was killed then he thought that would have a big psychological impact on al Qaeda supporters because he is such a figurehead.
He didn't think it would have a huge impact on operations, but he said people he talked to who follow Osama bin Laden, who believe in him, believe in his message, believe in his actions, they would suffer a huge psychological blow. Because they look up to him. He is their leader when all is said and done. Even if he is unable to immediately direct operations, he is still such a central point for the organized -- for the terror group.
KAGAN: And once again, for those of us just joining us here on CNN and CNN International around the world, we're talking about a new audiotape purported to be from Osama bin Laden, released to the Al Jazeera television network. They have aired parts of it. We have been listening to it and we're still waiting for verification it is indeed Osama bin Laden.
But, once again, the lead message, it is directed to the American people, and it does threaten soon and future attacks on the United States. Nic, following up on your point about how important Osama bin Laden is to al Qaeda, it's a structure and an organizational structure I think that's really difficult for those of us in the West to understand.
ROBERTSON: And really it is best understood, as David was saying before, as an ideology. That this is an ideology, the ideology is out there. Meaning the supporters know what they want to do, they know what the end goal is, which is this global Muslim caliphate, a global Muslim country, if you will, under one united leadership leading a very pure view of Islam that perhaps takes them back many centuries to the time of the prophet Mohammed 1,400 years ago. That's the end state, that's the end goal they're trying to get to.
And the way that this ideology says that they should try to get there is attack the United States, attack the United States' allies. And it doesn't matter if you're just attacking their soldiers, you can attack the people, you can attack their institutions. Indeed, Osama bin Laden has said before on many occasions that hitting the economy of the United States is a good way to attack the United States.
So the ideology is out there. You know where you want to get to and there's a very simple way to get there, attack, attack, attack, principally innocent civilian people -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Nic, David, we've been talking about this tape from Osama bin Laden for about 40 minutes now. Now we are able to play a portion of it for our audience. For those of you at home, this is the part of the tape where Osama bin Laden makes specific threats on here in the United States.
Let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSAMA BIN LADEN (through translator): I would also like to say that the war against America and its allies will not be confined to Iraq. Iraq has become a magnet for attracting and training talented fighters. A Mujahideen, we're able to overcome all security measures in European countries and you saw their operation in major European capitals.
As for similar operations taking place in America, it's only a matter of time. They're in the planning stages and you will see them in the heart of your land as soon as the planning is complete.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAGAN: Once again, that is a chunk of tape that is purported to be from Osama bin Laden. We have not received verification it is indeed from the al Qaeda leader. That is the first time we've listened to it here on CNN.
As we cover -- continue our coverage, I want to welcome Nic Robertson and David Ensor. And then here with me here in Atlanta, Octavia Nasr, our senior editor for Arab affairs.
Octavia, you've been listening in since we first got word this tape might out be out there.
OCTAVIA NASR, CNN SR. EDITOR FOR ARAB AFFAIRS: Right, we listened to the tape. Of course, what we do here at CNN, the first thing, is to verify that the voice on that audiotape sounds like bin Laden. Of course, we've heard many, many hours of bin Laden to be able to recognize that the voice, indeed, sounds like bin Laden. But again, we wait for officials, for the authorities to tell us for sure that it is him.
It sounds like him, the rhetoric is the same. The message is almost the same, that as you heard in the audio earlier, Daryn, he's very blunt about the attacks on the U.S. You know, bin Laden is a soft-spoken man. Any time you hear him, you don't hear anger in his voice. It's really the words. It's the rhetoric that he uses that tells us how serious he is or where he's coming from.
So we heard the audio on Al Jazeera. And, of course, The next step for us is to identify any markers. And indeed, this tape has a time marker. He mentions attacks on European capitals. That means that this tape was produced after the London bombings, which happened in July of 2005. Because before that, there was only one large bombing in Madrid in Europe. So basically he's talking about capitals -- that means London is included.
So that to us and to many observers who watch terrorism activities -- and particularly bin Laden, we look for the markers to see when the tape was produced. Of course, we haven't heard from bin Laden in over a year. So this tape comes as a proof at least back around July, you know, he was alive and well to produce a tape like the one we heard.
KAGAN: All right. Many, many questions for you. And you're going to stay here with me.
We want to bring in our Jeanne Meserve, our homeland defense correspondent. Because we were talking about the possibility just that this tape would come out, what that would do to the terror alert here to the U.S. Jeanne, what can you add to that?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, for the moment, it hasn't done anything at all. I've spoken with an official at the Department of Homeland Security who says at the moment, the threat level remains just where it has been, at threat level yellow. At this point, no plans to raise it up to threat level orange. Also, no additional protective measures ordered at this point in time or taken at this particular point in time.
So status quo for the moment as they continue to work on this tape and consider exactly what its import is. Of course, it's not news to anybody that Osama bin Laden is threatening attacks against the United States. So there's some possibility, I suppose, that things may stay, even after that analysis is done, where they have been.
KAGAN: And Jeanne, just kind of behind the scenes understanding. How does that work with the threat level and how quickly can they raise it?
MESERVE: They can move very quickly to raise it. They, of course, have taken inventory of the federal government. Each department knows what it is supposed to do at each level of the threat scale. Likewise, there are conference calls with state and local governments if any decision is made to change the threat level. And they, too, have in their back pocket plans for what they would do if the threat level would go up.
Now of course, the specific recommendations might change, depending on what the intelligence shows, if they have indications that a specific target has been mentioned, or a particular type of infrastructure is mentioned, they would tailor make the recommendations to match that intelligence. But at this point in time, absolutely no change.
KAGAN: All right, Jeanne Meserve, thank you for that, from Washington D.C.. Once again we're talking about the audiotape purported to be from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Parts of it played today on the Al-Jazeera Television Network.
Let's bring Octavia Nasr back in here.
So Al Jazeera only played chunks of the tape, didn't play the whole thing. Is that unusual? And why would they do it that way? NASR: Not unusual. That's not unusual. In the beginning, I mean, back in 2001, Al Jazeera would air the entire tape, and then they were criticized for being the mouthpiece of al Qaeda, and bin Laden and his men. So then they started sticking what they considered to be news worthy parts on the tape.
So it's not unusual for Al Jazeera to pick and choose. But indeed they ran about three bytes, what we call soundbites, portions of that tape, of which we heard one. The other soundbites talk about Iraq.
One interesting remark that he makes, that voice on the tape makes, talks about Iraq being the magnet right now for Mujahadin. So basically this is something that many exerts and observers have been sort of worried about, that Iraq has become a training place, very much like what Afghanistan has been back in the '80s.
And indeed, someone like bin Laden, if indeed that is bin Laden, coming out and saying that Iraq is a magnet, that indicates that those worries by the experts and observers are, you know, legitimate and Iraq has become indeed a fertile ground for terrorism, terrorism training, terrorism recruiting and so forth.
KAGAN: The person on the tape says being Osama bin Laden is addressing the message to the American people. But are there other parts on the tape that could be interpreted differently or how would it be received in the Arab world?
NASR: You know, again, we didn't hear the entire tape. The part that we heard, that Al Jazeera chose to air, are really a message to the American people. He repeats that a couple of times, that this is a message to the American people. He even offers a truce as some point. He plays the role of a peacemaker, sort of, you know, saying, look, we're willing to sign -- agree on a long-term truce with you. You don't attack our land. We don't attack yours.
And this rhetoric that we've heard before from bin Laden, again, it's not unusual that bin Laden addresses the American people. He's done that a few times before. Every time he's done it, it is to attack, to wage a personal attack on the U.S. president, George W. Bush, and also to send a message basically to the American people, saying that the only reason why we're attacking you is because we're paying you back for attacking us, in his words and in his logic.
So basically he repeated the same things. But it started out with a message to the American people, basically telling people things like, that your president has lied to you and look at the polls. You indicated that you wanted the president to pull out of Iraq, and a very clear message to the American people this time.
KAGAN: We will get more to what is on this audiotape. Octavia, you will stay with us.
Once again, the news of the day, Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader, purportedly making a new audiotape and releasing it to the Al Jazeera network. We have played parts it here for you on CNN. We are going to continue our coverage. Octavia Nasr, our editor for senior affairs, remains with us, along with Nic Robertson and David Ensor in Washington D.C. Our coverage of this breaking news continues.
Right now a quick break.
KAGAN: And we continue our breaking news coverage here on CNN. I want to welcome in our viewers here in the United States and all around the world on CNN International. We continue to cover the story of this audiotape that purported to have the voice of Osama bin Laden. It was delivered to the Al Jazeera network. They have played parts of it. And we have played one part of it. The most noteworthy part, it is addressed to the American people, and it threatens new attacks here in the United States.
I would like to welcome in Peter Bergen, an expert on the topic of Osama bin Laden. He literally has written the book.
And, Peter, get your take on a number of topics, including, why do you think it's been so long since we heard from Osama bin Laden?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: I think both Osama bin Laden and his number-two, Ayman Al Zawahiri, understand that the chain of custody of these videotapes and audio tapes, between them and wherever they are, and Al Jazeera can be traced back. And so I think one of the reasons we saw a strike against Ayman Al Zawahiri on Friday -- which probably didn't get him it appears -- was because Ayman Al Zawahiri has been releasing a lot of these tapes recently, almost a tape every month, it seems.
Bin Laden is a disciplined, secretive and paranoid person, who is aware of the fact every time he releases one of the statements, it can be traced back to him. So I think we haven't heard from him in a year for that reason. He wants to make a statement now, appealing to the American people, very similar to the same sort of statement he made five days before the U.S. presidential election, when we saw him in a videotape in a sort of Halloween parody of an Oval Office address, sitting behind the table and speaking directly to the American people.
KAGAN: And do you make anything of it being an audio tape rather than videotape?
BERGEN: I think a videotape has more information on it that intelligence agencies might be ale to use, you know, simple things like, what do his clothes look like? Are they well pressed. Does that suggest that he's in a more urbanized area or in a more rural area. Even with a very neutral background behind him, I think a smart intelligence analysis could pick up clues on videotapes that it's much harder to pick up on an audio tape.
Also it's possible the Al Qaeda operation is being so interfered with and really sort of on the ropes, that the video arm of al Qaeda, known as Zahan (ph), which means, "the clouds" in Arabic, may not be able, you know, may not be up and running, and may not be able to do a tape with bin Laden at this point. KAGAN: Osama bin Laden, the man claimed to be Osama bin Laden, says that this is an indication of how things are going in Iraq and being able to get the tape out is an indication of how strong al Qaeda is, that it is winning and America is losing. Do you think it is that, or it's an indication of the opposite?
BERGEN: Well, winning or losing is a big question. Certainly we've seen a lot of terrorism in 2004 and a lot of terrorism in 2003. More than we have seen in 20 years, in terms of significant terrorist attacks in both of those years. So certainly we have seen a reenergized al Qaeda as a result of the war in Iraq. We are seeing, you know, Europeans in small numbers volunteering to fight in Iraq. You may remember just back in November, a Belgian female actually conducted a suicide operation against American troops in Iraq.
So, certainly the Iraq war has provided something of a recruiting ground for jihadists around the Middle East, in particular, but also to some degree in Europe. And we've also seen even a number of Canadians, according to the Secret Intelligent Service in Canada, going to fight in Iraq.
So, the Iraq war has unfortunately, I think, re-energized al Qaeda, the logical movement. Certainly al Qaeda, the organization, that attacked us on 9/11 has been quite damaged. We've captured or killed most of the top leaders, except, of course, the two most important ones, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And as we get to the top of the hour, I want to once again welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world on CNN and tell you the news. Osama bin Laden, the man claiming to be Osama bin Laden, releasing a videotape to the Al-Jazeera network.
And for our full coverage, let me introduce everyone that I have here with me. We have Nic Robertson and David Ensor, Octavia Nasr and Peter Bergen.
And before we get to more discussion with our experts, let's actually let you listen to a part of the tape. This is what we consider the most important part of the tape, and that is where Osama bin Laden in a tape that he says is directed toward the American people, he warns there will be more attacks here in the United States.
And before we listen, let me just say, once again, it has not been confirmed for sure that the man on this tape is Osama bin Laden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I would also like to say that the war against America and its allies will not be confined to Iraq. Iraq has become a magnet for attracting and training talented fighters. The Mudjahadeen were able to overcome all security measures in European countries, and you saw their operation in major European capitals. As for similar operations taking place in America, it's only a matter of time. They're in the planning stages, and you will see them in the heart of your land as soon as the planning is complete.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAGAN: First to Nic Robertson.
Nic, you've been covering this story for a number of years. The linkage between the tape that we've seen in the past, seen or heard from with Osama bin Laden and attacks that have actually been carried out?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There has been quite clear linkages in the past. Perhaps the tape and the statement that came out of the time, because the tape was never released -- it was a tape that CNN obtained many years later. But there was a direct linkage between a statement Osama bin Laden made in May 1998, when he announced, along with his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, that they were joining their forces, that they would launch an attack against -- attacks against the United States, interests around the world, just three months later in the capital of Kenya, Nairobi, an attack against the U.S. embassy there. And the same in Tanzania.
So, there is a direct linkage there. There have been other direct linkages.
There have also been messages. And one must remember that there have been messages by bin Laden, by his deputy, Zawahiri, that have not led immediately to attacks.
Indeed, many messages that have been released over the last year or so have not led directly to attacks. They seem more as sort of propaganda tapes to get themselves heard, to get their message out without the follow-up of attacks. But certainly several years ago, it was much more common to expect a message, expect an attack fairly soon afterwards -- Daryn.
KAGAN: David Ensor, our security expert in covering the security world in Washington, D.C., what does the U.S. government do with a tape like this?
DAVID ENSOR, NATIONAL SECURITY EXPERT: Well, the Central Intelligence Agency has a unit that analyzes in particular audio tapes and also videotapes. And obviously message -- job one is to figure out whether this is Osama bin Laden's voice. They'll compare it with other recordings, and their very best translators who know Osama bin Laden's voice well will draw -- will make their own assessments.
I would think that before the day's out, we'll have that.
And as Nic mentioned, most of these tapes turn out to be genuine. Though once or twice there have been fakes put out by others.
So, we'll probably hear that this is Osama bin Laden's voice from the Central Intelligence Agency before the day is out. I can't guarantee it, but that's been the pattern up until now.
Now, they also be listening closely for any time markers, as we have been discussing, anything that might show when the tape was recorded. And all we have so far from the clips that Al-Jazeera has put out would suggest that it has to have been recorded after the London bombings in July, but how much after isn't clear.
He doesn't refer to any of the really recent events that have gone on in the last month or two. So, that's job one, is analyze the tape in that way -- Daryn.
KAGAN: And our senior editor for Arab Affairs, Octavia Nasr.
What about the markers in this tape? What do you hear?
OCTAVIA NASR, CNN SR. EDITOR, ARAB AFFAIRS: Well, we have -- we have two markers, really, the one that David just mentioned. You know, when he talks about, you know, attacks in European cities, I mean, we know of the Madrid bombings and then the London bombings which took place in January -- in July of last year.
So that really -- him mentioning the plural of European cities puts the marker back at around July, August of last year. But beyond that, there are no markers.
He does talk about polls, about U.S. polls concerning troops pullout of Iraq. But as you know, I mean, there are so many of those polls, most of the them indicate that most American people polled want U.S. troops to pull out of Iraq as soon as possible.
So he kept it general. In this sense, there is no specific marker.
But what it says, really, more than the markers, it says that wherever Osama bin Laden is, he is well informed. And he's staying on top of the news.
And this is something that Osama bin Laden has been doing a lot, you know, in the last few years, where he mentions certain events or he mentions dates. Sometimes he starts his speeches by giving the date, basically to tell people that he's still alive and well.
I think he's very aware of the big brouhaha that take place around any time an audio or video of him is released by Al-Jazeera or on the Internet. And he tries to capitalize on that.
What I was doing, while David was speaking, you know, Al-Jazeera posted on their Arabic Web site -- they posted the entire tape.
KAGAN: The transcript of the tape?
NASR: The transcript of the tape.
KAGAN: In Arabic.
NASR: And this is something that they weren't doing before. But basically, many people criticized them for not being transparent, basically picking and choosing what sound bites to air.
And reading this transcript, it's interesting, because you see that he does go into details of what the Pentagon is saying about the war in Afghanistan, about the war in Iraq. Basically saying that the Pentagon is making the numbers up, the Pentagon is not saying how many really are being injured or killed from the American side.
It's interesting to read the full transcript, because anyone who listens to bin Laden, who knows bin Laden, knows that, you know, his speeches are very lengthy. I mean, we're talking 30 minutes, 40 minutes, sometimes over an hour.
So Al-Jazeera chose only a few minutes. And as you said, we aired only one portion of those few minutes that aired on Al-Jazeera. But it's interesting to read the entire thing, because then you really get into the mind of bin Laden and what he was thinking when he taped this message.
KAGAN: I'm going to let you look at that a little bit more and come back to you. And I want to hear more about what you find, the nuggets that you find in this entire transcript.
Also, I want to talk to you and to Peter Bergen about this relationship between Osama bin Laden and Al-Jazeera and how that works with each other.
But before we do that, I want to go to the phones, because we have Barbara Starr, our Pentagon correspondent. She's on the phone. She's in Bahrain on assignment.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you, Daryn.
Actually, we've come out to this region, to the Persian Gulf, to talk to officials here, senior U.S. commanders, about this very question, what about the hunt for Osama bin Laden and his top commanders?
This has been a major topic out here, of course, now, for several years. But since the recent airstrike in Pakistan, it has been the headline news in the local newspapers almost every morning out here.
What U.S. military commanders are telling us is that the war on terror has really become what they call here in this region the long war. That it's now much more about -- about the fight against the jihadist ideology. It's not just getting bin Laden and Zawahiri, his number two man, that it is the fight against the ideology, the fight against the financing networks, the Web sites that portray this ideology.
But yesterday we had an interview with a senior U.S. Army general. He will be a familiar face, of course, to many Americans from his time in Iraq. This was before this bin Laden tape came out, but we asked him this very question about whether it was still important to get the top al Qaeda leadership. Let's have a listen for a minute to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT, U.S. ARMY: If this was simply an organization that was a bunch of crazies that were tossing hand grenades, it could be easily controlled. But this is an organization that seeks to acquire weapons of mass destruction. That's why it must be countered and that's why it must be destroyed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: That, of course, is Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, once the military spokesman in Baghdad. Now he is the deputy chief of plans and strategy at the U.S. Central Command. And like so many of his counterparts, working throughout this region on the war on terrorism issues, on the hunt for bin Laden.
And he makes this point that is very important to U.S. military commanders, that they want people to understand this concept of the long war, that it's more than just military action. The airstrike in Pakistan, of course, showing how difficult it is to target just one man, the strike against Zawahiri, which appears to have failed to have killed him, perhaps.
But still, of course, as General Kimmitt says, bin Laden, Zawahiri, iconic figures in al Qaeda. And very important to get them because of the ideology they portray. The U.S. military firmly believes that al Qaeda's main goal is to get its hands still on weapons of mass destruction -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Barbara Starr on the phone with us as she's on assignment in Bahrain.
Thank you for that.
A couple events we're looking forward to that we'll be bringing here in about an hour. There'll be a White House briefing. You'll see that live here on CNN.
Also, an hour and 15 minutes from now, Vice President Dick Cheney previously scheduled -- already scheduled to make a speech on the war on terror. You'll see that speech live here on CNN as well. It has new meaning and a new frame to it with the news of the morning of this video -- of this audio tape coming out, purportedly of the voice of Osama bin Laden.
Peter Bergen, we haven't heard from you in a little bit. I want to ask you what you think of the relationship between Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and Al-Jazeera and the role they play in spreading the message of Osama bin Laden.
BERGEN: It's like almost anybody in the modern world has a media strategy. And he gave interviews to "TIME" magazine, to CNN, to ABC News, and also to Al-Jazeera. He's had a fairly strong relationship with Al-Jazeera over time because it's the leading Arab language news network.
I think over time, that relationship has sort of eroded, to be honest, because there are other networks that bin Laden has also sent tapes to. And in fact, he's even expressed some displeasure to people within al Qaeda about Al-Jazeera sort of only taking certain parts of certain speeches, as Octavia pointed out. And so, they've also used the Internet, where you're not edited.
So, certainly there has been a close relationship between al Qaeda and -- well, when I say a close relationship, I mean a relationship of convenience in the sense that Al-Jazeera is a leading Arab news organization and, of course, Osama bin Laden is the biggest news story in the Arab world and arguably in other parts of the world. And so we saw before the U.S. presidential election, for instance, the videotape that was shown five days before the election went to Al- Jazeera's bureau in Pakistan, which has been the recipient of other tapes.
Now, where this audio tape came from and who received it in Al- Jazeera, I don't know. And I think we probably won't know, because it's one of the things that Al-Jazeera, for journalistic reasons, I'm sure, is not going to advertise.
But I think these tapes have come into their bureaus in Pakistan, some of them have gone directly to Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Doha, Qatar, via some sort of a carrier method. But Al-Jazeera is not the only recipient of these tapes.
And, of course, simply saying that Al-Jazeera is sort of a mouthpiece for bin Laden I don't think really makes a lot of sense, since every other news network in the world, including the one we're talking on right now, regards bin Laden as an important news story and is going to air at least portions of the tape, not the hour tape that Octavia refers to from the transcript, but at least the important news.
We operate in -- we're news-gatherers. And so we're not going to just simply put it on the air, just any old bin Laden propaganda. But we make news judgments about the certain pieces that we will put on the air which advance the story.
KAGAN: Peter Bergen, thank you.
And we want to explain to you what you're seeing up on the screen, the interesting dichotomy of our coverage today. We started with President Bush, who is in Sterling, Virginia, today. He is giving a speech on the economy.
We were listening to that when news of this new audio tape broke. And since then, we've been focussing on the significance of that.
David Ensor is with us.
David, how much are they able to make of the chain of how the tape gets from Osama bin Laden, from al Qaeda to Al-Jazeera? ENSOR: Work on this issue. My understanding is they believe that these tapes typically go through multiple hands before they reach Al-Jazeera.
There may be handoffs, as I think Peter mentioned, or Nic, from one motorbike to another in a crowded street in Pakistan. There might be several of these along the way.
So, following that chain of custody back is extremely difficult. Nonetheless, I know efforts are being made to do so. And there have been some successes along the way.
Clearly, not getting all the way back, though, to the -- to the origins of the tapes. If they've done that by now, either bin Laden or Zawahiri would probably not be with us any longer. Still, that is an effort they do make.
They also gather human intelligence and surveillance by eavesdropping on telephone, e-mail and any other kind of communication. And they try to sort of triangulate all these different sources to try and figure out where these -- where these people are.
And they got what they thought was a pretty good combination of intelligence last Friday that led them to strike against Damadola, that small village up in the Pakistani highlands near the Afghan border where they were hoping to get Ayman al-Zawahiri. It doesn't look as if they succeeded, but they are saying they believe they killed between four and eight senior al Qaeda operatives. And there are various names floating around.
So, there's a lot of effort right now going into this. And clearly, the CIA has gone on the offensive in the last six to eight weeks -- Daryn.
KAGAN: David, thank you.
Once again, we're talking about this audio tape purported to be from Osama bin Laden, delivered to the Al-Jazeera network. In it, the man claiming to be Osama bin Laden addresses the American people and says that there have been -- to the American people, that "there are plans under way for attacks in the United States," that those plans are already under way.
Let's bring Octavia Nasr back in here.
You were listening very carefully to what David and Peter were talking about, the chain of command and the links in the chain that get the tape from Osama bin Laden to al Qaeda.
NASR: Right. We ask Al-Jazeera this question all the time. Although we get the same answer, we keep asking the question.
And basically, what Al-Jazeera says is, we obtained the tape. I mean, what does that mean, really? In my conversations with Al-Jazeera officials, I mean, I get the word that there is a messenger system, basically that the tape goes from one person to the other to the other to the other, to the point where some people don't know each other, some people drop the tape off, for example, at someone's door.
Whether you believe it or not, I mean, that's the story that Al- Jazeera gives out.
KAGAN: Hundreds of people, tens of people?
NASR: They don't know. They say they don't know. And that's the question a lot of times.
You know, the journalists that we deal with, for example, at Al- Jazeera, certainly don't know. All they know is that a tape is there, and then they sift through it for newsworthy material.
But the messenger system, how -- you know, who was the first person to tape it with Osama bin Laden, to the person who delivered it at Al-Jazeera's doors, was it in Pakistan, or in Qatar, that is the biggest question. How many people are involved? What kind of people?
Are we talking about crossing borders? Are we talking within the same country?
Many, many questions. And Al-Jazeera never gives answers to, other than Al-Jazeera obtained the tape.
KAGAN: And you're making an interesting point. Al-Jazeera making two decisions. One, that they put parts on the tape on their air, they put the entire transcript on their Web site.
You have that transcript. You're going through it. You're going to share with us some nuggets in just a minute.
KAGAN: But save those nuggets for us.
Once again, our coverage continues here in the U.S. and all around the world with our experts about this audio tape reported to be from Osama bin Laden in which he makes direct threats here on the United States.
Our coverage continues. We're back in just a moment.
KAGAN: Welcome back. I'm Daryn Kagan.
We continue our coverage now of this new audio tape reported to be from Osama bin Laden in which he addresses the American people and warns that there are new attacks, new plans for attacks here in the U.S. that are already under way.
I want to welcome back in Peter Bergen, Nic Robertson and David Ensor as we continue our coverage.
Gentlemen, I'll get to you in just a minute.
First, let's get to the exact tape. Once again, we have not completely confirmed that this is Osama bin Laden. Our experts that have listened to it believe it is indeed from him. And in this tape, he threatens the U.S.
Let's listen in to one part of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I would also like to say that the war against America and its allies will not be confined to Iraq. Iraq has become a magnet for attracting and training talented fighters. The Mudjahadeen were able to overcome all security measures in European countries, and you saw their operation in major European capitals.
As for similar operations taking place in America, it's only a matter of time. They're in the planning stages, and you will see them in the heart of your land as soon as the planning is complete.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAGAN: Whether or not Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda carry out this threat, they already have been effective in grabbing the attention of the world media. We were listening in to a speech from President Bush in Sterling, Virginia, earlier today when this news broke.
President Bush trying to make the national conversation today about the United States' economy. But during that speech, he also did talk about the war on terror.
Let's listen in to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And the amazing thing that happened last year that I hope -- at least gives me heart, is that millions of Iraqis made a choice. You know, they defied terrorists. We see them.
The terrorists have got a weapon. It's called our TV screens. These people are cold-blooded killers, I'm telling you. I mean, as you know, I don't need to tell you that.
And what they're trying to do is they're trying to drive us out before democracy can take hold because they understand -- I haven't talked to one, so I'm not exactly sure. I'm putting words in somebody's mouth. I would suspect, though, deep in their soul they understand they can't compete. Their ideology cannot compete with liberty.
And so to answer your question... (END VIDEO CLIP)
KAGAN: And that was President Bush as he was speaking earlier today in Sterling, Virginia.
Unclear whether or not President Bush had been briefed on the existence of this tape before the speech began. Because as we said, news for us broke just as his speech was beginning.
Let's go ahead and bring Nic Robertson back in here.
And Nic, actually, right before I get to you, I do want to mention that there will be a White House briefing in about 50 minutes. You'll see that live here on CNN, as well as Vice President Dick Cheney about an hour from now scheduled to give comments on the war on terror. This was an event that was previously planned before this tape came out.
And you will see both of those events, the White House briefing and Dick Cheney, live here on CNN.
Nic, to you.
As you have a chance to listen to parts of this tape and read about what's on it, what do you make of it?
ROBERTSON: Well, there's another element on this tape as well as this threat that there could be attacks in the United States. He does talk about the offer of a truce.
He says, "We are people who will not stab you in the back." He doesn't talk about what this offer of a truce may be or what it's about.
I mean, he has talked in this tape obviously about the United States pulling out of Iraq, getting out of Afghanistan. He says, it's not wise for you to be -- "It's not wise for you to follow your war in Muslim countries."
He does say that "We know your leaders don't want to accept this offer of a truce." It's just not clear what it is at all.
But they have made similar statements before. Back in April 2004, an al Qaeda message offered a truce to European cities if they pulled out of Iraq, saying that the European cities would not be attacked but the truce and the offer would end in July 2004.
Well, British troops didn't pull out of Iraq, and it took another year before there was an attack in London. But it does seem that when bin Laden makes these types of statements, when Zawahiri makes these types of statements, they fully intend to carry through.
And when you look at this particular message, threats -- the attacks are coming, this sort of offer of a truce, whatever that is, but the threat's clearly there. We've seen in the past, there is this linkage there -- Daryn. KAGAN: And David Ensor, to you, to try to zero in on some of the markers on this tape.
He talks about polls, opinion polls here in the U.S., how a majority of Americans would like to see American troops come home from Iraq. That's not a very good pinpoint because those polls have been around since fall of 2003.
ENSOR: Yes. It's just not a very good time marker. It depends which poll you look at. And we don't know which ones are reaching northwest Pakistan, in any case.
It does show that bin Laden follows the news and tries to follow American public opinion. And that apparently he thinks that he can make an appeal to public opinion.
It does also -- I mean, just as an observer, I would just say, he doesn't really seem to understand American public opinion. If you put out an appeal to people to withdraw troops and then threaten at the same time to attack with terrorism in the mainland of the United States, I would have thought most countries, certainly this one, will get its back up at that sort of talk.
It's not very likely that he's going to convince more Americans by this kind of a tape to oppose the forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he's obviously -- he realizes that public opinion matters in democracies. He's trying to figure out how to influence it in his way -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Wants to influence something that he doesn't want his own people to have.
Peter Bergen, let's bring you in here and talk about Osama bin Laden's intended audience here. He says he's addressing the American people. But do you believe his audience, what he hopes for, is bigger than that?
BERGEN: Well, I guess picking up on some things that both David and Nic said, I think the truce thing is very important. You know, in Islamic jurisprudence, if you are going to attack somebody, you're supposed to warn them before you attack them..
And we've had -- you know, Bin Laden went on CNN in 1997 to warn the United States that he was planning to attack. He also held a press conference in '98 in Afghanistan saying the same thing. And then, of course, they did attack, first of all, the U.S. embassies in Africa, then the Cole, then 9/11.
The offer of the truce, as Nic pointed out, to European nations expired in July 2004. And then there was the attack almost exactly a year after the expiration of the "truce" in London.
After that, we got a tape from Ayman al-Zawahiri and also the lead suicide attacker in the London attack. And Ayman al-Zawahiri said, look, you didn't -- you ignored our offer of a truce. Look, we did this thing in London.
So this offer of a truce I think is kind of significant. It's been made before, and they have acted on it when the truce has expired.
But -- and also, then, picking up on this question of appealing to the American people, you know, as David correctly pointed out, I don't think this is going to be a particularly effective appeal. After all, mass murderers of Americans don't generally enjoy particularly -- we don't have warm and fuzzy feelings to them in the United States.
But they do understand -- Ayman al-Zawahiri in his biography pointed out that half of our battle is a media battle. And they are conscious of public opinion.
We've seen Ayman al-Zawahiri releasing tapes recently saying, hey, you guys, let's support the earthquake victims in Pakistan, let's be shown to be nice guys. We also had a tape form -- a letter from Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq saying, enough with the beheadings. You know, you're turning the population against us.
So they are conscious of public opinion. I think that bin Laden has sort of repositioned himself in the last year or so as sort of the elder statesman of jihad.
Obviously, he's not on his phone ordering attacks. He's careful about his -- you know, not to reveal his location. But by these videotapes and audio tapes, he's providing broad, strategic guidance to the broad ideological movement that remains the most important player here.
And I think it's significant that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the lead insurgent commander in Iraq, renamed his group Al Qaeda in Iraq and pledged allegiance to bin Laden in 2004, indicating that bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri continue to give the broad strategic guidance to the network, whether it's in Iraq or in London or in Spain.
KAGAN: Peter Bergen, Nic Robertson, David Ensor, more of your thoughts in just a moment.
Our coverage continues. This new audio tape reported to be from Osama bin Laden. We'll have more coverage after this break.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com