Cairo, Egypt Osama bin Laden warned in an audiotape aired Thursday that his fighters are preparing new attacks in the United States but offered the American people a "long-term truce" without specifying the conditions.
The tape, portions of which were aired on Al-Jazeera television, was the first from the al-Qaida leader in more than a year. It came only days after a U.S. airstrike in Pakistan that targeted bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, and reportedly killed four leading al-Qaida figures, possibly including al-Zawahri's son-in-law.
There was no mention of that attack in the tape, which Al-Jazeera said was recorded in January. The network initially reported it believed the tape was made in December, but later corrected itself on the air. Editors at the station said they could not comment on how they knew when it was made.
The al-Qaida leader is believed to be hiding in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In the tape, bin Laden spoke in a soft voice, as he has in previous recordings, but his tone was flatter than in the past and had an echo, as if recorded indoors. He presented his message with a combination of threats, vows his followers can fight forever and a tone of reconciliation, insisting he wants to offer a way to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He even recommended a book for Americans to read: "The Rogue State," apparently a book of the same title by American author William Blum. He said it offers the path to peace - that America must apologize to victims of the wars and promise never to "interfere" in other nations - though it was not clear if these were conditions for the truce.
Bin Laden said he decided to make a statement to the American people because he said President Bush was pushing ahead despite polls which showed "an overwhelming majority of you want the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq."
He said the Bush administration was lying about victories in the Iraq war.