Al-Qaida Picks al-Zawahri as Bin Laden Successor

Posted June 16th, 2011 at 3:35 am (UTC-5)
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Al-Qaida says it has picked Egyptian-born Ayman al-Zawahri to succeed Osama bin Laden as head of the terror network.

Al-Qaida posted the announcement on an Islamist website. The group vowed to immediately continue its pursuit of jihad, or holy war, against the United States and Israel.

Zawahri, a surgeon who turns 60 next week, had been bin Laden's long-time deputy. Terrorism experts often consider him to be al-Qaida's main strategist and operational organizer. Many analysts assumed he would take over al-Qaida's leadership after U.S. commandos raided bin Laden's Pakistani hideout last month and killed him.

After bin Laden was killed, Zawahri continued al-Qaida's condemnation of the West. He also has criticized Arab states al-Qaida considers to be godless and too closely allied with the U.S.

In a recording, he contended that NATO's aerial attacks on troops loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi are designed for a Western takeover of the country's oil wealth.

But he also praised his fellow Egyptians for overthrowing President Hosni Mubarak and jailing him, and voiced support for the Syrian uprising against the authoritarian rule of President Bashar al-Assad.