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'Al-Qaeda No 2 to soon comment on Pope, Bush'

A banner warning of the upcoming message was posted on an Islamic website that frequently airs Al-Qaeda videos.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2006 21:34 IST

Al-Qaeda No 2 Ayman al-Zawahri will soon release a new message about the pope, US President George W Bush and Sudan's troubled Darfur region, an Islamic website said on Wednesday.

A banner warning of the upcoming message was posted on an Islamic website that frequently airs Al-Qaeda videos. Today's notice did not specify whether the new message was a video, audiotape or text, but al-Zawahri usually releases videos.

His latest came earlier this month, to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Al-Qaeda released a string of videos for the anniversary, showing increasingly sophisticated production techniques in a likely effort to demonstrate that it remains a powerful, confident force five years into the US-led war on terror.

The red stylised banner posted on Wednesday flashes a small headshot of al-Zawahri, next to a short text: "As-Sahab production institute presents: Sheik Ayman al-Zawahri, God protect him. Bush...Vatican pope...Darfur...Crusader wars."

The graphic is stamped with the emblem of As-Sahab, Al-Qaeda's media production arm.

It did not specify a timeframe for the tape's release, saying only that it would come out "soon, God willing."

Osama bin Laden and his deputy al-Zawahri are believed to be hiding in the Afghan-Pakistan border region.

Many analysts believe that they no longer have centralised control to order or organise attacks by terrorists around the world. The capture and killing of many mid-level commanders has left Al-Qaeda more diffuse and amorphous.