Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri
Osama bin Laden (L) sits with his adviser and purported successor Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The new chief of al Qaida described Osama bin Laden as a sensitive man who cried when his friends lost family members, remained close to his children despite the hard life of an international jihadist and fondly remembered - by name - the 19 men who carried out the deadliest terrorist attack ever to be orchestrated on US soil.

Long-time bin Laden deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, now al Qaida's new head, related these and other memories in a new video posted on jihadist websites.

Through the video, al-Zawahiri said he wanted "to show the human side" of bin Laden's life. By doing so, he is probably also trying to boost his own popularity, by emphasising his connection to the group's former and more charismatic leader.

The man behind al Qaida's growth into one of the world's most feared and despised terror organisations and the mastermind behind some of its deadliest attacks, bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy Seals, in May, during a raid on his residence in Pakistan. His former deputy, al-Zawahiri, assumed control of the organisation shortly after.

Throughout the 30-minute video, apparently the first in a series to come, al-Zawahiri emphasises what he calls the "nobility" of bin Laden's character.

"People don't know that this man was tender, gentle, kind, with refined feelings, even when life was hard. We never saw a man like him," said al-Zawahiri.

The video also shows al-Zawahiri narrating stories of bin Laden and his affection and respect for al Qaida members who died fighting the "holy war"; special mention was always accorded, al-Zawahiri remembered, to those who carried out the 9/11 attack in the U.S.

"The sheikh would remember with goodness and gratitude and be moved by the memory of the 19 brothers who attacked the idol of our age, America - the Pentagon, the headquarters of its military power, and New York, the symbol of its economic power," al-Zawahiri asserted.

He recalled one time when bin Laden and he were hiding in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan; the former was worried that he would be killed "without remembering those heroic martyrs" and wrote death certificates for each of them.

The current al Qaida leader even spoke of the death of his own family members, on which occasion, he said, bin Laden came to him with tears in his eyes and hugged him.

The final few reminiscences were about bin Laden's relationship with his children. According to al-Zawahiri, great attention was paid to educating them well, despite having to move from place to place. Apparently a teacher was hired, who would threaten to beat the children with a stick to teach them the Koran.

"Everyone close to him saw the fine and noble education in his children," said al-Zawahiri.

In conclusion, al-Zawahiri recalled a time when bin Laden, one of his sons and he were driving a lorry in Afghanistan. Having decided to split up for reasons of safety, bin Laden went to say goodbye to his son, not knowing when, or if, he would see him again.

"He told him, 'My son, we are keeping our oath, fighting jihad in the path of Allah'," said al-Zawahiri.