Iraq: Bin Laden deputy lauds slain Al-Qaeda leaders

Baghdad, 20 May (AKI) - A new audio tape purportedly from Al-Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri has paid homage to two leaders of Al-Qaeda in Iraq who were killed last month, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Ayub al-Masri. Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is expected to release an audio message to honour the dead pair in the next few days, according to jihadist websites.

"You, al-Baghdadi, were a great leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, you knew how take it over most ably from your comrade in arms, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi," said the taped message, aired by Arabic satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera, which has yet to be authenticated.

The Al-Qaeda affiliated Islamic State of Iraq is an umbrella group made up a number of insurgent groups.

Jordanian-born Al-Zarqawi, who was believed to have personally carried out a series of beheadings, died in an air raid on his hideout in Iraq in 2006.

Al-Baghdadi was the political leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

He and al-Masri, an Egyptian militant who was the insurgent group's self-styled "minister of war," were killed on 18 April in a joint US-Iraq operation near northern city of Tikrit.

Al-Qaeda linked Somali insurgent group Al-Shabab, Al-Qaeda's North African branch Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and several Salafite groups operating in the Gaza Strip have all released messages of condolences.


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