Al-Qaida's deputy leader said in an audiotape aired Saturday that Taliban's fighters control large areas in Afghanistan
and are fighting American forces and the US-backed Afghan government.
It was not clear when the tape purportedly by al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri
was recorded. Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television
, which aired about 30 seconds of the tape, said al-Zawahri did not refer to any new events in the speech.
The tape's authenticity could not be independently confirmed, but the voice resembled that of al-Zawahri's confirmed in past recordings.
Al-Zawahri said the Taliban movement is controlling large sectors of east and south Afghanistan and are"waging a guerrilla war against the crusaders and their cronies."
The last tape by al-Zawahri emerged on December 11, though it was believed to have been recorded in mid-September. In it, the Egyptian-born militant urged all Muslims to take up arms to fight against "the Cross and Zionism" and warned that the Islamic world had "no hope for victory" until all Muslims signed on to the al-Qaida-led jihad.
That tape dealt with similar issues as the recording aired Saturday. In the December 11 tape, al-Zawahri credits toppled Taliban leader Mullah Omar
with leading a three-year campaign "against the Crusaders and apostates in Afghanistan" and purportedly taking control of "extensive parts of eastern and western Afghanistan."
Mullah Omar is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan, where Taliban forces continue to launch regular attacks but do not control large swaths of territory.
US-led forces toppled the hard-line Taliban regime in late 2001 when it refused to turn over bin Laden
and stop providing a haven to the group blamed for the September 11 attacks.
Al Zawhari appeared about eight times this year to address al-Qaida followers and other Muslim militants while bin Laden has not appeared in a video for more than a year. In a video recorded in September, al-Zawahri said bin Laden is still a live