DUBAI (Reuters) – Al Qaeda’s number two Ayman al-Zawahri has issued a new audio message in which he eulogizes Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, whom U.S. forces killed last month, a monitoring group said Monday.
The Egyptian militant Zawahri, thought to be in hiding in mountainous territory close to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, is heard speaking in the 28-minute video, the U.S.-based Intel Center said.
Mehsud, leader of the Pakistan Taliban, was killed by U.S. forces in a missile strike in the Pakistani region of South Waziristan on August 5.
It was the latest in a flurry of messages from the leaders of al Qaeda, who masterminded the September 11, 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in the United States and who have evaded capture despite a large dragnet.
Osama bin Laden, the Saudi leader of the Islamist network, urged European nations to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan in a tape issued on September 25.
On September 23, Zawahri appeared in an elaborate 106-minute video production marking the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, in which he blasted Arab leaders and U.S. President Barack Obama for their policies on Israel.
On September 14, bin Laden “addressed the American people” in an 11 minute-long tape over their government’s ties to Israel.
Islamist websites have also carried two videos in which an al Qaeda figure, identified by the German Interior Ministry as German-Moroccan Bekkay Harrach, said Berlin would pay a price if voters backed a government that supports the Afghan deployment.
A conservative bloc led by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union won German elections Sunday.