New Osama Tape Prompts Vigilance

Just one day before the sixth anniversary of Sept. 11, the deadliest attack on American soil, Osama bin Laden has released what may be the second tape in less than one week, though it has yet to be authenticated.

Authorities say that the latest videotape holds no suggestion of a new threat, yet its existence sends a threatening message.

Mike McConnell, the director of National Intelligence, said it is essential that the government handle all of these tapes with caution, and he assures Americans the government remains vigilant.

"We are safer, but not safe," McConnell said.

McConnell said that while bin Laden remains a figurehead of al Qaeda, he is no longer in fact the intellectual leader of the group. That title belongs to Ayman al-Zawahiri of Egypt.

The new video features a freeze frame of bin Laden, and a voice, assumed to be his, praises the Sept. 11 hijackers.

It is the latest sign that al Qaeda's public relations division is picking up steam, putting out dozens of videos so far this year, most with sophisticated graphics and English subtitles. It's a sign, many say, that al Qaeda has revived itself.

"The fact is, the northwest territories of Pakistan are now a sanctuary where people from around Europe and the Middle East come — they're recruited — and they go into training camps just like they used to do in Afghanistan," said ABC News consultant Richard Clarke.

While Pakistan's military has launched operations in the region, no al Qaeda leader has been captured or killed in Pakistan in the last 18 months. The latest national intelligence estimate reports the group is growing in strength.

Still, military leaders in Pakistan insist al Qaeda is under control, even though bin Laden is still on the loose.

Pakistani Gen. Waheed Arshad has been on his trail for six years.

"It's like finding a needle in a haystack. If you're not sure what you're looking for, and if you don't have confirmed intelligence, you don't have confirmed locations, you're going to keep walking and keep looking," Arshad said.

McConnell echoed the enormity of the task.

"Finding a single human being on this earth, in the billions — who wants to be hidden — is very, very difficult," he said.

It's a difficult task that still stands at the top of the government's to-do list, as bin Laden remains the U.S. target.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's tenuous political situation, including Monday's deportation of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, has taken its toll with President Pervez Musharraf's future still uncertain.

"The government is so busy in trying to secure a new five-year term for Musharraf that they have ignored the other aspects of the government, and I think the police and law enforcement agencies are demoralized," Pakistani journalist Rahmillulah Yusef said.