In the video, bin Laden tells Americans they should convert to Islam if they want the war in Iraq to end. He lectures them on the failures of their leaders to stop the war in Iraq despite growing public opposition in the U.S.
"There are two solutions to stopping it. One is from our side, and it is to escalate the fighting and killing against you. This is our duty, and our brothers are carrying it out," bin Laden said.
"The second solution is from your side," he said. "I invite you to embrace Islam."
"It will also achieve your desire to stop the war as a consequence, because as soon as the warmongering owners of the major corporations realize that you have lost confidence in your democratic system and have begun to look for an alternative, and this alternative is Islam, they will run after you to please you and achieve what you want to steer you away from Islam," he said.
CBS News terrorism analyst Paul Kurtz says bin Laden is not just addressing Americans - he is also sending a signal to his sympathizers.
"He's alive and well and he's up to date on what's happening in the world," Kurtz said. "So he's not necessarily living in some cave without broadband; he's connected, he knows what's going on."
Intelligence analysts are still looking at the video image to determine if the speaker is Osama bin Laden, but a U.S. intelligence official says an initial technical analysis suggests the voice on the tape is that of bin Laden, reports CBS News correspondent Bob Orr.
According to the U.S. official, a transcript of the tape reveals the following:
Officials will not say how the government obtained the tape, but it may have been briefly posted this morning on a Jihadist Web site, reports Orr. That Web site since has crashed.
U.S. officials said they do not know when, or if, al Qaeda will release the tape. The officials brushed aside questions about whether the U.S. would preemptively put it out.
Al Qaeda's media arm had previously announced a new bin Laden video would be released ahead of the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The video, if authentic, would be the first video from the terror chief in nearly three years.
On Thursday, the White House said that any new video from bin Laden would serve to highlight threats the West faces. Analysts noted that al Qaeda tends to mark the Sept. 11 anniversary with a slew of messages, and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told CBS News Friday afternoon there is no credible, imminent threat against the U.S.
Still, if the man in the video is bin Laden, his appearance would be significant. The al Qaeda leader has not appeared in new video footage since October 2004, and he has not put out a new audiotape in more than a year, his longest period without a message.
One difference in his appearance was immediately obvious. The announcement had a still photo from the coming video, showing bin Laden addressing the camera, his beard fully black. In his past videos, bin Laden's beard was almost entirely gray with dark streaks.