Tenet: Past bin Laden messages followed by attacks
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With the nation on high alert, CIA Director George Tenet told a Senate committee Wednesday that the United States is looking at whether the purported new audiotape from Osama bin Laden "is a signal of a pending attack."
"What he said has often been followed by attacks," Tenet said, "which I think corroborates everything in what we are seeing in terms of raising the threat warning, in terms of the specific information we had at our disposal last week."
Experts were analyzing the newly released 16-minute audiotape, broadcast Tuesday on the Qatar-based, Arabic-language TV network Al-Jazeera. A voice on the tape believed to be that of the al Qaeda leader urged Muslims to show solidarity against any U.S.-led military action against Iraq.
"We want to let you know and confirm to you that this war of the infidels that the U.S. is leading with its allies ... we are with you and we will fight in the name of God," the voice said. ( Full story)
"Our brothers the mujahedeen in Iraq, don't worry about America's lies and their powers and their military might," he said. "We also advise you to drag the forces into fighting you in street fights. Take them into farms, into cities and fight them in there. ... They will be losing a lot of lives." (Key points from address)
Tenet, addressing the Senate Armed Services Committee, declined to be more specific about the tape, but he said bin Laden "is obviously raising the confidence of his people."
"Whether this is a signal of a pending attack is something we are looking at," Tenet said. "I can only tell you what the history is." (Full story)
During similar testimony Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Tenet said the reports of planned attacks are "the most specific we have seen" and are consistent with previous al Qaeda plots. (Full story)
Word of the bin Laden tape first emerged Tuesday when U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told a Senate panel a new message had surfaced believed to be bin Laden claiming he is "in partnership with Iraq."
In an interview with Al-Jazeera, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher defended Powell's assessment that bin Laden and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein were "bound by a common hatred" despite their different ideologies.
On Wednesday, Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan denied his government had any ties to bin Laden and al Qaeda.
"I think that this subject, although a dangerous one to comment on, is not worth addressing," Ramadan said in an interview on Lebanese television. "Just after September 11, the first liar, the No. 1 liar, Bush, appeared and said Iraq has a connection with al Qaeda. Every investigation has shown that not even by coincidence has one Iraqi citizen been involved with September 11."
In response to the elevated threat of terrorist attack, Pentagon officials said they had placed anti-aircraft missile batteries around Washington to protect the U.S. capital and said military air patrols also have been stepped up over Washington and New York. (Full story)
The Bush administration ordered the threat level increased from elevated to high Friday, citing specific threats and heightened "chatter" -- or various messages to and from suspected terrorists about possible upcoming attacks.
Across the Atlantic, Britain's Labor Party chairman John Reid said Wednesday that the nature of the terror threat against London was similar to the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. (Full story)
However, European intelligence officials questioned Powell's contention Wednesday that the lethal poison involved in a terrorist plot broken up in Britain came from Iraq.
Investigators have said that arrests in Europe found suspected terrorists trained in biological and chemical weapons in the Pankisi Gorge region of Georgia and nearby Chechnya -- and the traces of the ricin found in a British raid were clearly "homemade." (Full story)