The Al Qaeda terror network has issued a statement warning US President Barack Obama he is not "welcome" in Egypt, it was revealed Wednesday, as the American leader touched down in Saudi Arabia at the start of his Middle East trip.
The audio message, by the Al Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri, dubs Obama a "criminal".
"He is not welcome in Egypt," al-Zawahiri adds, in a taped message released overnight.
Obama landed in Riyadh Wednesday lunchtime for talks with King Abdullah at his palace outside the capital, before travelling on to Egypt for a major address Thursday, which the White House is billing as a keynote speech to the Muslim world.
A prominent Egyptian lawyer, Muntasser Sayyat - who has previously defended several Islamist extremists - said that Egyptian people would pay little heed to the message, predicting that Egyptians were curious to hear what the US president, himself partly brought up in a Muslim nation - would have to say.
"I think Al Qaeda only released this tape to remind people they are still there," he told DPA in Cairo.
Obama will meet Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak for talks Thursday before the Cairo speech, although Mubarak himself is not expected to attend the address.
This is because he does not want to sit in the same room as some of the parliamentary opposition, such as the banned Muslim Brotherhood, who have also been invited.
Although the US president is heavily-guarded at all times, the Al Qaeda network in north Africa gave a glimpse Wednesday of its brutality, announcing it had killed the British hostage Edwin Dyer, kidnapped in Mali in January.
There were unconfirmed reports Dyer had been beheaded.