WASHINGTON – Al-Qaeda has released a message from slain leader Osama bin Laden praising the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and urging Muslims to take advantage of a "rare historic opportunity" to rise up, a US monitor says.
The message posted on jihadist forums on Wednesday by Al-Qaeda's media arm As-Sahab addresses Muslims on the revolutions sweeping the Middle East and North Africa, SITE Intelligence Group said.
Speaking from beyond the grave, bin Laden recommends setting up a council to offer revolutionary advice and decide the best timing to spread revolt across the Muslim world.
"A delay may cause the opportunity to be lost, and carrying it out before the right time will increase the number of casualties," bin Laden says, according to SITE's translation of the 12-minute, 37-second audio message.
"I think that the winds of change will blow over the entire Muslim world, with permission from Allah."
He urged Muslim youth to "prepare what is needed" for spreading these revolutions by "consulting the sincere experts who stay away from compromises and the flattery of oppressors."
SITE said an earlier statement by Al-Qaeda indicated that bin Laden made an audio recording a week before he was killed by US commandos, addressing the revolutions and offering advice and guidance.
Al-Qaeda, which has long advocated that violence is the only way to overthrow regimes, has been caught off guard by the "Arab Spring" uprisings, which have been triggered by popular concerns over inflation, unemployment and calls for political reform rather than jihadist doctrines.
However, Western officials have warned that the group would try to exploit the wave of unrest that has swept across North Africa and the Middle East.
In the message released on Wednesday, bin Laden referred to the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, but made no mention of those in Libya, Syria or Yemen.
"There is a serious crossroads before you, and a great and rare historic opportunity to rise with the Ummah (Muslim community) and to free yourselves from servitude to the desires of the rulers, man-made law and Western dominance," he said in the recording, which was posted as a video with a photograph of him.
"It is a great sin and immense ignorance to waste this opportunity that was awaited by the Ummah for long decades. So, take advantage of it and destroy the idols, and establish justice and faith."
Bin Laden accused the region's rulers of setting themselves up like idols and using the media and religious institutions to maintain their grip on power.
"So, what are you waiting for? Save yourselves and your children, because the opportunity is here," he said.
Bin Laden also warned against negotiations and compromise.
"So, to these free revolutionaries in all the countries: hold fast to your initiative and beware of negotiations, because there is no middle road between the people of truth and the people of falsehood. There is no way," he said.
Bin Laden concluded his message by calling on his followers to finish the work that has been started, saying victory will follow.
"The big oppression in our countries has reached great limits, and we have waited too long to condemn it and change it," he said.
"So, he who started should finish and Allah will grant him victory."
A covert US Navy SEAL team killed bin Laden on May 2 at his Pakistan compound in the garrison town of Abbottabad before burying him at sea.