Al Qaeda has released an audio message purportedly recorded by Osama bin Laden in the weeks before his death at the hands of U.S. forces.
In the recording, first shared on Islamist websites, bin Laden praises the Arab Spring protests that have rocked the Middle East and North Africa and predicts they will spread across "the entire Muslim world."
“I think that the winds of change will blow over the entire Muslim world, with permission from Allah,” he says, according to The Associated Press.
"To the Muslim nation — we are watching with you this great historic event and share with you the joy and happiness," the recording continues according to Reuters. "Congratulations for your victories and may God grant your martyrs mercy, your injured recovery and your prisoners freedom."
The message is said to have been recorded some time in the 10 weeks prior to bin Laden's killing by U.S. Navy SEALs in a raid on a Pakistan compound at which he had been living for years.
There is no mention of any specific country where pro-democracy movements have erupted — including Bahrain, Libya and Yemen — but he urges protesters to "retain the initiative."
"To those free rebels in all the countries — retain the initiative and be careful of dialogue," the recording continues. "No meeting mid-way between the people of truth and those of deviation."
Bin Laden also said Israel was worried about the Arab Spring protests.
The recording comes ahead of a major address Thursday by President Obama on the Middle East in which he will strongly stake out the administration's support of democracy in the Arab world.
Watch part of the video via Agence France-Presse below: