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US rejects any 'truce' with Bin Laden
(AP)
Updated: 2006-01-20 21:11

Rejecting a suggestion by Osama bin Laden of a negotiated truce in the war on terror, Vice President Dick Cheney said there was only one way to deal with terrorists. "I think you have to destroy them," Cheney said.


Exiled Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden is seen in this April 1998 file photo in Afghanistan. Al-Jazeera aired an audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2006, saying al-Qaida is making preparations for attacks in the United States but offering a truce to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan. [AP]

The vague offer of a truce coupled with a threat of another attack on the U.S. was made in an audiotape released by the Arab television network Al-Jazeera. It brought new attention to the al-Qaida leader after a yearlong lull in his public statements.

U.S. security officials said Thursday there were currently no plans to raise the nation's security threat level because of the new tape.

Counterterror officials said they have seen no specific or credible intelligence to indicate an upcoming al-Qaida attack. Nor have they noticed an uptick in terrorist communications "chatter" although that can dramatically increase or decrease immediately before an attack.

On the tape, bin Laden warned that his fighters are preparing new attacks in the United States but offered the American people a "long-term truce" without specifying the conditions.

But Cheney, in a television interview, rejected that suggestion, saying "We don't negotiate with terrorists."

"I think you have to destroy them," he told Fox News Channel. "It's the only way to deal with them."

The tape prompted increased security at Los Angeles International Airport and other precautions at the city's port and water and power facilities.

The FBI has asked the 103 joint terrorism task forces and intelligence units at its 56 field offices to re-examine its cases and investigative leads in light of the bin Laden tape. "Do you see something in your area of operation that might be assessed as more significant than it was the day before?" said an FBI official on condition of anonymity because he was discussing an internal FBI communication.

The national terror threat level currently stands at yellow, the middle of five grades, signifying an elevated risk of attack. The government has raised the alert level to orange, signaling a high threat risk, seven times since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"At this time, we lack corroborating information suggesting that al-Qaida is prepared to attack the United States in the near term," said Homeland Security spokeswoman Michelle Petrovich. "But we recognize that al-Qaida remains committed to striking the homeland."

The tape, which Al-Jazeera said was recorded this month, represents bin Laden's first public communication since December 2004. Since then, al-Qaida's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, has served as the terror network's public face.

The recording was released only days after U.S. missile attacks in Pakistan that Pakistani officials said killed four senior al-Qaida operatives.

CIA analysts verified the recording as bin Laden's voice. They offered no details about how they reached that conclusion, but in the past the agency has verified authenticity in part by comparing new recordings to earlier messages.
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