I have just amended my speech, and will at times speak to you spontaneously and from the heart. I must do so now for I do not have long. Examine my face, once described by women of the Middle East as handsome or cool, and you will see that I am not a healthy man. I’m gaunt and gray and may have kidney problems and certainly have endured a selfless and eternal battle against you infidels. I know you are hunting me. Perhaps you will find me before my body independently expires. I do not care.
I am isolated in caves and tents and under the stars and in the most filthy and modest of homes, and for too long have been unable to speak to you on video tape. Meanwhile, dedicated but lesser men such as Ayman al-Zawahari, the former physician who became my assistant in Afghanistan, and Zarqawi, my Al Qaeda leader in Iraq, are now much more active. And why have I not been more involved, you may ask? It’s essential I martyr others rather than myself.
Nevertheless, I am at last willing to step into sunlight and offer you a long-term truce. You stop occupying our countries and killing us and we will stop killing you in our homelands and attacking you in America. How could I possibly enforce such a diplomatic decree? Don’t tell me that would be like an arsenic-laced Napoleon issuing orders from his island prison. I refuse to think that way. Naturally, I consider myself leader of the international coalition against America. That is why I presume to guarantee that if you don’t respond, “Your minds will be troubled and your lives embittered… We have nothing to lose. A swimmer in the ocean does not fear the rain. You have occupied our lands, offended our honor and dignity and let our blood and stolen our money and destroyed our houses…and we will give you the same treatment.
“You have tried to prevent us from leading a dignified life, but you will not be able to prevent us from a dignified death. Failing to carry our jihad, which is called for in our religion, is a sin. The best death to us is under the shadows of swords. Don’t let your strength and modern arms fool you. They win a few battles but lose the war. Patience and steadfastness are much better. We were patient in fighting the Soviet Union with simple weapons for ten years and we bled their economy and now they are nothing.
“In that there is a lesson for you.”
You see why enemy forces hunt me without cease. I can kill with planes or words, and am by bounds the most articulate man in this war. All Bush and Cheney have said is they don’t negotiate with terrorists. They only destroy them. So how will this war ever end? You won’t negotiate with those you are fighting, and your leaders forever insist – their need for enemies is as unrelenting as mine – that you are indeed in a real war. Of course, if a nation as vast as America really were at war, wouldn’t it have ten percent of its population under arms, as during World War Two? Instead, you struggle, and often fail, to meet even the most modest recruiting requirements. And yet you’re talking evermore of also attacking Iran. I hope you will not do that but have always considered your invasion of Iraq a preliminary step to assaulting our Muslim brothers to the east.
At this instant I for the first time foresee that even in abject hiding I can do much more than infrequently deliver tapes of appalling technical quality. I really do understand America. And I know you would never negotiate with me. So if you agree to negotiate with leaders who were not involved in September Eleventh, pursuant to withdrawing from Muslim territories in exchange for our vow not to attack you at home or anywhere else, I will send you my dissipated head on a golden platter.