Osama breaks 13-month silence with truce offer

Published 5:27 pm Monday, January 30, 2006

By Staff
Reclusive rock star Osama bin Laden wants to mount another terror tour, but his voice is weak, he can't get his old band, al-Qaeda, back together, and he doesn't fill seats the way he once did.
His band has been on the run for four years, holed up in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
His re-emergence Jan. 19 after 13 months of silence since December 2004 came in a 10-minute audio tape played on Al-Jazeera, the Arab TV channel. The United States believes the message was probably recorded since November because of a reference to British newspaper reports from that time about a purported President Bush proposal to bomb al-Jazeera.
The decision not to release videotape suggests a desire to conceal his physical deterioration. His rhetoric was muted.
He didn't convey a sense of urgency about forthcoming attacks on U.S. soil: “They are in the planning stages, and you will see them in the heart of your land as soon as the planning is complete.”
The isolated Saudi even offered the United States a “truce” if it withdraws troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Iraqi insurgents want Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi dead almost as badly as the U.S. military does.
Pakistani intelligence officials claimed that a Jan. 13 U.S. air strike on Damadola missed intended target and No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri, but killed as many as four senior al-Qaeda operatives - al-Zawahiri son-in-law Abdul Rahman al-Maghrebi, Abu Ubayda al-Misri, a commander in Afghanistan, and bombmaker Abu Khabab al-Masri.
Missiles fired from unmanned Predator drones practically obliterated a three-house compound. Sympathy surged among seething villagers in the lawless tribal region when the strike killed 13 civilians, including women and children. Thousands of angry Pakistanis chanted, “Long live Osama bin Laden.”
Osama himself seems to sense the noose tightening, signaling in his message that he will not be captured alive.
Quips, quotes and qulunkers: “More than four years after the World Trade Center Towers fell, the guy that brought them down is still mooning us from his mountain hideout. That's humiliating to the greatest military power on Earth. But every tape bin Laden makes reminds Americans how much they loathe him, distracting them from the fact that they're not all that crazy about Bush. If the president can't sell his policies on their merits, he can pitch them as the opposite of what the enemy wants. By renewing his pledge to slaughter Americans, bin Laden conveniently took the focus off of Iraq, where the president is weak (37-percent approval rating), and put it on terrorism, where he is strong (53 percent).”
columnist Steve Chapman
Democracy on the march: Or, be careful what we wish for, as the U.S.-backed Palestinian elections produced an upset win for Hamas, a militant Islamic group the United States considers a terrorist organization.
The feature-film version of the ad-libbed series is set in Miami, with the motley crew protecting Florida after bioterrorists attack the American police convention.
Elvis Costello, 51, and the Imposters went to New Orleans and recorded 17 songs with pianist Allen Toussaint, 68, for the CD “The River in Reverse,” to be released in May on Verve Records.
They collaborated on Costello's 1989 album, “Spike.” This time they wrote five songs together.
Paving Presley: The Nashville studio at 1525 McGavock St. near Music Row where the other Elvis recorded “Heartbreak Hotel” on Jan. 10, 1956, is being torn down to provide additional parking for an auto dealership.
Anniversary: It's been 30 years since the Ramones debut album in 1976.
It's winter somewhere: With the temperature -6 in Dresden, Germany, Jan. 24, the zoo moved its penguins indoors.
Depressed?: University of Texas researchers found that just 30 minutes of brisk walking can immediately boost mood without resorting to caffeine, binge eating or cigarettes.
Enough already: about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's 250th birthday Jan. 27 in Austria. America's friskiest founding father, Ben Franklin, turned 300 Jan. 17 with a lot less fanfare.
Anniversary, 20 years: We watched along with their horrified families on Jan. 28, 1986, as the space shuttle Challenger blew apart launching teacher Christa McAuliffe into space. The doomed flight also killed commander Dick Scobee, pilot Mike Smith and astronauts Ellison Onizuka, Judy Resnik, Ron McNair and Greg Jarvis.
Disney said Jan.24 it's buying longtime animation partner Pixar (“Toy Story,” “Finding Nemo”) for $7.4 billion.
The stock transaction makes CEO Steve Jobs, who also heads Appple Computer, Disney's largest shareholder and new board member.
In other eat-or-be-eaten business news, No. 2 Adidas and No. 3 Reebok are merging to contend with Nike.