CAIRO — A top al-Qaida ideologue vowed revenge today for the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces, in the first jihadist admission of the militant leader’s death.
The reaction of the online jihadi community to their hero’s death varied between expressions of disbelief mixed with protestations of revenge and vows to continue the fight against Islam’s enemies.
The prominent commentator, going by the online name “Assad al-Jihad2,” posted on extremist websites a long eulogy for bin Laden and said the Islamic holy war against the West was far from over.
“Woe to his enemies. By God, we will avenge the killing of the Sheik of Islam,” he wrote. “Those who wish that jihad has ended or weakened, I tell them: Let us wait a little bit.”
Militant websites with links to al-Qaida regularly post long interviews with al-Jihad2 on the protocols of waging holy war. He is also often used to resolve questions of doctrine.
“The battle between us and international tyranny is long and will not be stopped by the martyrdom of our beloved one, the lion of Islam,” said al-Jihad2, whose own online name means lion of jihad. “How many martyrdom seekers have been born today?”
U.S. forces raided bin Laden’s heavily guarded compound in a suburb of Pakistan’s capital late Sunday, killing him, his son, a woman and two others.
The death of bin Laden marks a triumph of the U.S. in its long struggle against al-Qaida which began long before the Sept. 11 attacks with the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa that killed 231 people.
Revenge attacks could come from the al-Qaida franchises existing in the tribal areas of Pakistan, southern Algeria and especially Yemen — which hosts one of the most vigorous branches.
While most analysts believe bin Laden had long ago turned over the day-to-day operations of the extremist network to his lieutenants, he remained an inspirational and charismatic figure to jihadists around the world.
“The weight of Sheik Osama is equal to that of the whole United States,” said al-Jihad2 in his eulogy.
“Which country managed to attack the Pentagon? Which countries managed to send the most powerful country in the world into decline? The one who did that is a nation called Osama bin Laden,” he said.
Hussein bin Mahmoud, a prominent and respected writer for the militant web forums wrote a long article today, entitled “Osama is not dead … he is alive with his message.”
He said Americans would be allowed to celebrate a few days and then “we will resume the Islamic war … wait for the worst to come for you and the agents in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Europe.”
Any revenge attacks should be well planned because “individual and random operations lead to negative results,” he cautioned.
Several of the supervisors for the web forums made rare public statements, cautioning participants to await official confirmation from al-Qaida itself.
Assad al-Islam, the general supervisor of one forum, however said “if he died, his jihadi message has not, we are all mujahedeen.”