From AP: "Osama addresses militants in Iraq, Somalia"
CAIRO, Egypt - Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden said in an Internet message Saturday to militants that the Islamic community was depending on them to "liberate" Iraq.
In his fifth statement this year and his second in two days, the 19-minute audio recording was accompanied by a photo of bin Laden above the logo and name Al-Sahab, al-Qaida's media production wing.
"Your Muslim nation is looking for you and praying for your victory. You are their hope after God. You are God's trusted soldiers who will liberate the ummah (the nation) from the serfdom of the crusaders in our countries," he said in the posting.
Bin Laden endorsed Abu Hamza al-Muhajer as the new leader for his terror network in Iraq. He urged him to step up "the struggle" to transform Iraq into the center of an Islamic Caliphate.
"I pray to God to make him the best successor to the best predecessor."
On Friday, bin Laden paid tribute to slain leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and he denied that the terror organization was involved in sectarian strife in Iraq.
He urged militants in Iraq to continue their fight.
"Stay steadfast and don't leave Baghdad, otherwise all the capitals in the region will fall to the crusaders."
He also called on all Somalis to support the Islamic Courts, which he said were building an Islamic state in the Horn of Africa.
"You have no other means for salvation unless you commit to Islam, put your hands in the hands of the Islamic Courts to build an Islamic state in Somalia," he said.
The Islamic Courts group took over most of Somalia in June.
And they ended the month by claiming authority over the entire country.
Bin Laden lashed out at the president of Somalia's secular interim government, Abdullahi Yusuf, calling him a "traitor" and a "renegade."