New Bin Laden Tape Calls for Jihad

In his second audio release in two months, Osama bin Laden continues to call for jihad or holy war, and to taunt the West, urging Muslims to join fighters in Iraq against the United States and lashing out at moderate Muslim states.

"It is clear that some Arab leaders have plotted with the Zionist-crusader coalition against our people," bin Laden said in the tape that was first aired on Al Jazeera. "We must seriously work and prepare for jihad."

Bin Laden also calls the recent Israeli offensive in Gaza a "holocaust."

"Every time he does go with a tape he sticks a finger in our collective eye and our national conscious," former FBI counterterrorism agent Jack Cloonan said.

Intelligence analysts believe al Qaeda is in the midst of an information blitz, attempting to intensify a propaganda war.

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According to the Intel Center, Al Sahab -- al Qaeda's information arm -- has released 18 recordings this year, at a rate of one every four days.

Al Qaeda and Bin laden are trying to send a clear message to the West and their followers.

"He is still relevant," Cloonan said. "He remains a threat. He is the chairman emeritus of a terrorist organization. And he has to be dealt with."

Bin laden's recording comes at a time when the United States has been ramping up drone attacks in the tribal regions along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border where al Qaeda's leadership is thought to be hiding.

Al Qaeda and the Taliban have become reinvigorated in recent months, especially in those tribal regions.

In exclusive interview with ABC News, a Taliban commander said his fighters are ready for the U.S. military.

"They are our target," the commander said. "We have readied suicide bombers for them."

U.S. officials said they see no direct call for a strike against the U.S. homeland in this latest tape. But those officials said that even if there is no direct call for such an attack, that is exactly what al Qaeda is planning to do.

With many Western economies in deep recession, now is an especially vulnerable time for an attack, terrorism analysts said.

"With the change in the administration, and with the economic uncertainty that we're having to deal at this point in time, it would be very opportune for al Qaeda to strike, because the impact would be enormous," Cloonan said.

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