Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden urged Iraqi militants in an Internet message Saturday to continue fighting the U.S.-led coalition in Baghdad, or else "all the capitals in the region will fall to the crusaders."
The message from bin Laden also endorsed Abu Hamza al-Muhajer as the new leader for his terror network al-Qaida in Iraq, succeeding Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed last month in a U.S. airstrike.
It urged al-Muhajer to step up "the struggle" to transform Iraq into the center of an Islamic Caliphate.
"I pray to God to make him the best successor to the best predecessor."
On Friday, bin Laden paid tribute to al-Zarqawi, and he denied that the terror organization was involved in sectarian strife in Iraq.
Saturday's 19-minute audio recording � his fifth statement this year and his second in two days � was accompanied by a photo of bin Laden above the logo and name Al-Sahab, al-Qaida's media production wing.
The authenticity could not be immediately authenticated. The U.S. government was working to determine if the voice heard is actually bin Laden's.
The message urged militants in Iraq to continue their fight.
"Stay steadfast and don't leave Baghdad, otherwise all the capitals in the region will fall to the crusaders," said the message.
"Your Muslim nation is looking for you and praying for your victory. You are their hope after God. You are God's trusted soldiers who will liberate the ummah (the nation) from the serfdom of the crusaders in our countries," bin Laden said in the posting.
He also addressed Islamic militants in Somalia, urging the people there to support the Islamic Courts, a group that he said was building an Islamic state in the Horn of Africa.
"You have no other means for salvation unless you commit to Islam, put your hands in the hands of the Islamic Courts to build an Islamic state in Somalia," he said.
The Islamic Courts group took over most of Somalia in June.
He also warned leaders of Islamic countries against sending troops to Somalia.
"We pledge that we will fight your soldiers on the land of Somalia and we will fight you on your own land if you dispatch troops to Somalia."
Bin Laden lashed out at the president of Somalia's secular interim government, Abdullahi Yusuf, calling him a "traitor" and a "renegade."