Osama bin Laden’s longtime lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahri, said the United States faces rebellion throughout the Muslim world after killing the al Qaeda leader, according to a YouTube recording posted on Wednesday. In what appeared to be his first public response to bin Laden’s death in a U.S. commando raid in Pakistan last month, the Egyptian-born Zawahri warned Americans not to gloat and vowed to press ahead with al Qaeda’s campaign against the United States and its allies.
“The Sheikh has departed, may God have mercy on him, to his God as a martyr, and we must continue on his path of jihad to expel the invaders from the land of Muslims and to purify it from injustice,” Zawahri said in the 28-minute clip. “Today, and thanks be to God, America is not facing an individual or a group … but a rebelling nation which has awoken from its sleep in a jihadist renaissance challenging it wherever it is.”
While the bespectacled Zawahri has been touted as successor to bin Laden, experts on al Qaeda say that another Egyptian militant, Saif al-Adel, is in interim command of al Qaeda. In the video, Zawahri warned Americans not to rejoice at bin Laden’s death: “You should await what will befall you after every celebratio n.” He condemned U.S. forces for burying bin Laden at sea, a move opposed by senior Muslim clerics as un-Islamic. The Americans said the burial included Muslim rite and took place at sea to deny bin Laden’s followers a shrine.
“He terrified America when he was alive and is terrifying it as a dead man, to the point that they shudder at the prospect of giving him a grave because of what they know of the love of tens of millions for him,” he said.