Ayman Al Zawahiri, the deputy to former Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, in a video message on Wednesday issued threats to pursue his late leader’s jihad against the West, according to SITE Intelligence Group.
Agence-France Presse quoted the Al Qaeda leader, long believed to be the natural successor to Bin Laden’s terror organization, as issuing these threats in video message, of which he was one of the speakers.
“The man who terrified America in his life will continue to terrify it after his death,” Zawahiri said in the video message titled “The Noble Knight Dismounted,” which SITE said was posted on jihadist online forums on Wednesday.
The video was made after Bin Laden’s death because the speakers refer to the late leader with “God have mercy on him.”
Osama Bin Laden was killed in a raid conducted by US Special Forces on May 2 in his home in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
This is the first statement from 59-year-old Zawahiri acknowledging Bin Laden’s death but he makes no reference to having taken over the terror organization’s reigns.
Analysts, however, believe that his aggressive tone and rhetoric suggested he had in fact taken over as the head of Al Qaeda.
In his nearly half an hour video speech, he criticized the manner in which Bin Laden was buried at sea, saying it was un-Islamic. He also appealed to the youth of Pakistan to follow the steps of their brethren in Arab countries, which have sought to overthrow their governments.
Zawahiri commands the largest bounty at $25 million and is wanted for his role in the attacks of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
Other speakers who appeared on the video included the US-born Adam Gadahn, Abu Laith Al-Libi and Attiya Allah.
“It’s important that we weaken our cowardly enemies’ will to fight by targeting influential public figures in Crusader and Zionist government, industry and media,” Mr. Gadahn says.
The 33-year-old Mr. Gadahn was born Adam Pearlman and began studying Islam when he was 17. He is said to have moved to Pakistan in 1998 after converting to Islam and has appeared in many Al Qaeda videos.
In the video he speaks in English when addressing Muslims living in the US who are “perfectly placed to play an important and decisive part in the jihad against the Zionists and Crusaders,” SITE quotes him as saying. He tells them how easy it is to buy automatic assault weapons at gun shows without any identification.
The video was created by Al Qaeda’s media wing, As Sahab, and was posted on Internet forums.
(Muna Khan, Editor of Al Arabiya English, can be reached at email@example.com)