The wife of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the second-in-command of al-Qaeda network, urged Muslim women to join the "holy war" in a message published on Islamist websites on Thursday.
A message purportedly from al-Zawahiri's wife, Omaima Hassan, encouraged Muslim "sisters" to join the jihad, calling it "an obligation for all Muslims, men and women."
The authenticity of the message could not immediately be verified.
"Fighting is not easy for women, because she needs a male guardian at her side," Hassan purportedly said.
"But we can do it many other ways, support warriors with money or information, or even by a martyrdom operation," she said, referring to female suicide bombers.
"The most important task for a Muslim woman is to take care of children of the mujahideen," she said in the message, released by al-Sahab Media, al-Qaeda's media arm.
Hassan also urged Muslims to turn to the "media of the mujahideen, because the western media only reports half the truth."
She began her message by addressing her "relatives and loved ones," assuring them that she and her husband are "doing well."
Al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's Egyptian-born deputy, regularly releases video messages through al-Sahab media, but Thursday's message was thought to be the first from his wife. - Sapa-dpa