A new video message from Osama bin Laden to the American people will soon be broadcast, to mark the sixth anniversary of the attacks of 11 September, according to a terrorism analyst group.
The Site intelligence group, which monitors Islamist websites, said al-Qa'ida's media arm al-Sahab had announced the forthcoming video. The terrorist leader has not been seen since November 2004, when he issued a message to the American public to coincide with the mid-term elections. In that message, he vowed that al-Qa'ida would fight the US anywhere in the world.
The internet announcement by al-Sahab carried a still shot from the video that showed Bin Laden, against a plain beige background, looking a little more haggard than before. There were signs that he has aged, however his beard, which in previous messages had been streaked with grey, was darker.
If proved to be genuine, the emergence of a new video would alarm Americans who have become more sceptical about the way President George Bush diverted attention and military resources away from the hunt for the mastermind of 11 September, and on to the war in Iraq, which is increasingly unpopular.
Bin Laden has issued several audio messages, the last of which was in July 2006. Experts are divided but many believe him still to be alive after initial unsuccessful attempts were made by coalition forces to track him in the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan in the wake of 11 September. He and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri are thought to be hiding somewhere around the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan.