Osama bin Laden promised never to be captured alive and declared the U.S. had resorted to the same "repressive" tactics used by Saddam Hussein, according to an audiotape purportedly by the al Qaeda leader that was posted Monday on a militant Web site.
The tape appeared to be a complete version of one that was first broadcast Jan. 19 on Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab satellite channel, in which bin Laden offered the United States a long-term truce but also said his al Qaeda terror network would soon launch a fresh attack on American soil.
"I have sworn to only live free. Even if I find bitter the taste of death, I don't want to die humiliated or deceived," bin Laden said.
In drawing the comparison to American military behavior in Iraq to that of Saddam, the speaker said:
"The jihad is continuing with strength, for Allah be all the credit, despite all the barbarity, the repressive steps taken by the American Army and its agents, to the extent that there is no longer any mentionable difference between this criminality and the criminality of Saddam."
With the implied criticism of Saddam, bin Laden appeared to be denying assertions by the Bush administration that the former Iraqi leader had ties to al Qaeda — ties that were given as one rationale for invading Iraq.
The tape's release in January came days after a U.S. airstrike in Pakistan that was targeting bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, and reportedly killed four leading al Qaeda figures, including possibly al-Zawahri's son-in-law. There was no mention of the attack on the segments that were broadcast.
In the full tape that was posted Monday, bin Laden engaged in renewed propaganda, mocking President Bush's aircraft carrier declaration in April 2003 that major conflict in Iraq had ended.
Speaking directly to the American people, the speaker said:
"You can rescue whatever you can from this hell. The solution is in your hands, if their (U.S. troops') situation matters to you at all."
The initial excerpts had been the first tape from the al Qaeda leader in more than a year — the longest period without a message since the Sept. 11 2001 suicide hijackings in the United States.
The CIA last month authenticated the voice on the initial recording as that of bin Laden, an agency official told The Associated Press at the time. The al Qaeda leader is believed to be hiding in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The last audiotape purported to be from bin Laden was broadcast in December 2004 by Al-Jazeera. In that recording, he endorsed Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi as his deputy in Iraq and called for a boycott of Iraqi elections.
Previously, the longest period without a message from the al Qaeda leader was from December 2001 to November 2002. He issued numerous tapes in 2003 and 2004, calling for Muslims to attack U.S. interests and threatening attacks against the United States.
Since December 2004, al-Zawahri, the al Qaeda Number 2, has issued a number of video and audiotapes, including one claiming responsibility for the July London subway bombings, which he said came after Europe rejected the terms of bin Laden's truce offer.