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(photo credit: AP [file])
Osama bin Laden praised martyrdom in a new videotape posted on a militant Web site Sunday by Al-Qaida's media production wing.
The bin Laden clip, which lasted less than a minute, was undated and part of a 40-minute video featuring purported al-Qaida fighters in Afghanistan paying tribute to fellow militants who have been killed in the country.
Bin Laden glorified those who die in the name of Jihad, or holy war, saying even the Prophet Muhammed "had been wishing to be a martyr."
"The happy (man) is the one that God has chosen him to be a martyr," added bin Laden, who appeared weary and was shown outdoors wearing army fatigues.
Bin Laden was last heard from in a July 1, 2006 audio tape in which he voiced support for the new leader of al-Qaida in Iraq and warned nations not to send troops to fight a hardline Islamic regime that had recently seized power in Somalia.
Sunday's video, dedicated to Muslims who have left their homes to fight Jihad, included a series of animated scenes showing green fields overlaid with Arabic names written in gold, representing Arab fighters who had died in Afghanistan.
Following one such sequence, the self-proclaimed leader of al-Qaida in Afghanistan appeared praising his fellow fighters.
"Your hero sons, courageous knights have left to the land of Afghanistan ... the land of Jihad and martyrdom, answering the call for the sake of God to kick out the occupier who has desecrated the pure soil of Afghanistan," said Mustafa Abu al-Yazeed.
In another clip, a man identified as Mujahid Haidarah al-Hawn was shown sitting in front of a tree with an AK-47 paying tribute to a Syrian fighter, Osama al-Hamawi, who died in an air raid in Afghanistan.
"I lived with him for four years," said al-Hawn, who wore a black scarf to cover his face. "He used to be my emir (commander) . . . he was a brother with extreme modesty."
A photo of al-Hamawi's face, apparently taken after his death, was broadcast, showing bruises around his eye and a red gash on his forehead.
A bearded man identified as Abu Yahia al-Libi, a Libyan al-Qaida operative in Afghanistan, appeared in the video wearing a black turban, saying the Muslim world was "offering the best of its men and sacrificing the good of its sons ... to protect its ideology."
Al-Libi escaped US custody in 2005 and is believed to be behind a suicide bombing that killed 23 people outside the main US base in Afghanistan during a February visit by US Vice President Dick Cheney.
The video also contained a series of clips with militants wearing traditional Afghan dress and carrying rifles and RPG launchers through the mountains.
The authenticity of the video could not be verified, but it appeared on a Web site commonly used by Islamic militants and carried the logo of as-Sahab, al-Qaida's media production wing.