Al Qaeda's Zawahri Makes First Post-Bin Laden Statement

Uri Friedman
June 8, 2011
Al Qaeda's Zawahri Makes First Post-Bin Laden Statement

In what appears to be his first public comments since the U.S. killed Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahri, long considered al-Qaeda's second in command, has issued a video posted to jihadist sites in which he eulogizes bin Laden at length, calling him a "noble fighter" and saying bin Laden will continue to "terrify" America "after his death." In the video, titled "The Noble Knight Dismounted," Zawahri (pictured above with bin Laden) reiterates his alliance with Taliban leader Mullah Omar and dismisses Pakistan as a U.S. colony whose government should be overthrown. He also challenges the U.S. claim that bin Laden was buried at sea according to Islamic tradition, declaring that the decision reflected "the compromised Islam of America, the Islam of Obama who sold his father's religion, became a Christian and prayed like the Jews to gain favor with the rich and powerful." He even commented on Obama's decision to not release the photos of bin Laden's corpse, claiming the U.S. feared the images would arouse the "Islamic peoples' anger and hate" for America.

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What are some of the other takeaways from the video? CNN points out that while President Obama characterizes the Mideast uprisings as a rejection of al-Qaeda's ideology, Zawahri claims the uprisings are a "catastrophe" for the U.S. and supports the protesters in the hopes that they'll overthrow the regimes and create Islamic states. At Der SpiegelYassin Musharbash (who has great coverage on Twitter) adds that Zawahri, who is believed to be hiding in Pakistan, didn't provide any new information on who will become al-Qaeda's next leader. Still, ABC News thinks Zawahri's "tone and words suggested he had the legitimacy to succeed bin Laden" and that he was assuming the role. A U.S. official, however, tells ABC that Zawahri's decision not to announce his leadership may signal "discontent" within al-Qaeda about who should direct the organization.

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This video comes after one released Friday, in which American-born al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn instructed U.S. Muslims to arm themselves at local gun stores and target major U.S. institutions and public figures. Here's a portion of the footage, from The Telegraph:

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