Osama bin Laden praised slain Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as the "lion of holy war" in a new videotape posted on the web on Friday.
The 19-minute message shows an old still photo of bin Laden in a split-screen next to images of al-Zarqawi taken from a previous video.
A voice resembling bin Laden's narrates a tribute to the Jordanian-born militant, who was killed in a June 7 airstrike northeast of Baghdad.
"Our Islamic nation was surprised to find its knight, the lion of jihad (holy war), the man of determination and will, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed in a shameful American raid," bin Laden said.
It was the fourth message put out this year by Al-Qaeda leader bin Laden. All have featured his voice in audiotapes. New video images of him have not appeared since October 2004.
The authenticity of the video could not be immediately confirmed. It bore the logo of As-Sahab, the Al-Qaeda production branch that releases all its messages, and was posted on an Islamic Web forum where militants often post messages.
Typically, the CIA does a technical analysis to determine whether the speaker is who the tape claims and the National Counter-terrorism Centre analyses the message's contents. In the tape, bin Laden's voice sounded breathy and fatigued at times.
"Even if we lost one of our greatest knights and princes, we are happy that we have found a symbol for our great Islamic nations, one that the mujahedeen will remember and praise in poetry and in stories secretly and aloud," bin Laden said.