Calling the shot
This latest tape is smart: it distracts US politicians, creating divisions and distractions from actual policy needs.
They score a political point by making a token "truce" offer, knowing it will be promptly rejected. Which both forces the US to react, again, and wins points with their home crowd.
It could be a bluff, a smart terrorist organization triggers several false alarms per real threat in order to force law enforcement agencies to stretch their resources. But, that is one tactic aQ does not seem to use well, the track record is that when they make a threat they are making a sincere effort to carry out the threat.
So, that makes it seem ~ 50+% probable there will be an active effort to carry out some terrorist strike in the US in the next week or two. Main question is whether the "heart" of America is meant literally (Kansas beware?) or metaphorically (if so, where?).
A win-win play for aQ, doubly so if they actually do a successful strike of any significant size, after having given open warning! It is a very arrogant thing to do, but a safe call, since it can always be claimed to be a "panic them with a bluff" scheme if they got nothing.
There were news reports some months ago about bin Laden being broke (huh? that's close to $billion gone, not counting any profits from pre-9/11 option trading - and what became of that investigation?) - now that may have been part of the "fake letter form Zawahiri to Zarqawi" ploy tried in Iraq, or maybe he really did spend it all... but on what?
If I were the FBI-of-infinite-agents, I'd be looking at small businesses purchased outright or taken over in the last 3-5 years: companies handling general stores, storage facilities and truck fleets; franchises, maybe even food supply services.
Hard task, even with data mining. Very easy to keep a legitimate front for good well resourced agents with patience, and let them establish rapport and confidence, particularly if the business is subsidised to run at a modest loss to make those who interact with it feel warm and fuzzy.