An Al Qaeda spokesman this week called for unity among Islamic militants worldwide in a new recorded message, according to a U.S. intelligence official.

The approximately 28-minute tape features Al Qaeda spokesman Abu-Yahya al-Libi telling Islamic scholars to lend their weight to support the "jihad," that is, a holy obligation or struggle. The intelligence official said this is an apparent effort to counter some Islamic scholars who are criticizing Al Qaeda's violent activities, saying they do not qualify as jihad.

The videotape, in Arabic, was posted on a well-known jihadist Web site on Jan. 23, according to the official.

Al-Libi urges military groups to resist splitting into factions along national or political lines and to fight only for Islamic causes, according to the U.S. government's initial translation, the official said.