Al Qaeda has released a video message in which the group's leader, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, heaps praise on his predecessor Osama bin Laden for his superior morals and loyalty to his comrades.
In the half-hour tape titled Days with the imam, Part One a bespectacled Zawahiri, who became the leader of al Qaeda in June after bin Laden's killing, described the network's founder as noble, generous and good.
I had the honour of the companionship of that man for long periods in travel and in different circumstances, said Zawahiri, who met bin Laden in Pakistan in the mid-1980s when both were supporting guerrillas fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan.
Sheikh Osama would feel great sadness if he felt that his brothers in the path of jihad had been oppressed or had not reached their rightful goal, said Zawahiri. That man was very loyal to his brothers and he was intent on remembering them in virtue and praising their way.
Zawahiri was bin Laden's lieutenant and the brains behind much of al Qaeda's strategy for many years.
He used to remember the 19 (people) who attacked the idiot of the age, America, in the Pentagon, the seat of its military leadership, and in New York, the symbol of its economic power, said Zawahiri, referring to al Qaeda's September 2001 hijacked aircraft attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.
Zawahiri ended by saying the video would be followed by others about bin Laden. It was not clear when the video was recorded.
(Reporting by Isabel Coles and Ahmed Tolba; editing by Tim Pearce)