The tape purportedly came from Abd al-Rahman al-Najdi, who is among America’s 16 most wanted al-Qaida leaders, AFP said.

 

“Sheikh Usama bin Ladin and Mullah Omar are well,” al-Najdi said on the tape.

 

“I would also like to congratulate our brothers in Iraq for their valiant struggle against the occupation, which we support and urge them, to continue,” he added, Reuters reported.

 

Aljazeera could not verify the authenticity of the tape, aired by Al-Arabiyya, or that the speaker was indeed a member of al-Qaida.

 

A small amount of video footage of bin Ladin and his followers was aired in 2001, and an audio tape purportedly made by al-Qaida leader broadcast on an Islamist Web site in February 2003. Still, there has been no conclusive proof that he is still alive.

 

Saudi-born bin Ladin, and Mullah Omar have been at large since the US-led war in Afghanistan, Reuters reported.