Al Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri has appeared in a new video praising Osama bin Laden, but was seen by US intelligence analysts as evidence that the terrorist network has yet to anoint a new leader, according to US media reports.
The video is the first recorded message issued by al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian, who has long served as al Qaeda's top deputy, since bin Laden was killed in a May 2 US military raid on his hideout in Pakistan.
Zawahiri praises bin Laden in the recording as an ongoing source of inspiration for Muslims and warns the United States that it will face reprisals for the al Qaeda chief's demise, the Washington Post reported citing a translation provided by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online postings by militant groups.
But US officials cited by the US daily said they were struck by the absence of any assertion by Zawahiri that he would assume control of the terrorist network he helped found.
The new video opens with an older clip of bin Laden before switching to footage of Zawahiri speaking in front of a brown backdrop with a rifle at his side.
The nearly half-hour video, displayed on several radical Islamist websites, includes a poem eulogising bin Laden, CNN said. Al-Zawahiri says in the video that the former al Qaeda leader "went to his God martyred because he said no to America."
Al-Zawahiri also questions the US assertion that bin Laden was buried at sea in strict accordance with Islamic tradition.
"What kind of Islam are they talking about?" he asks. "Is it America's Islam or the Islam version of (President Barack) Obama who sold off his father's faith?"
Al-Zawahiri also criticises the "treacherous" Pakistani government, and warns that America is "not facing individuals or groups, but an entire (Islamic nation that) rose from the ashes in a Jihadi awakening to face its oppressors."