Osama bin Laden’s deputy has warned that America faces not individual terrorists or groups but an international community of Muslims that seek to destroy it and its allies.
Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaida’s long-time No 2 and considered the network’s operational head, was delivering a 28-minute videotaped eulogy to slain al-Qaida leader bin Laden.
He also sought to cast a role for the terror group in the popular uprisings shaking the Arab world.
“Today, praise God, America is not facing an individual, a group or a faction,” he said, wearing a white robe and turban with an assault rifle leaned on a wall behind him.
“It is facing a nation that is in revolt, having risen from its lethargy to a renaissance of jihad.”
Al-Zawahri also heaped praise on bin Laden, who was killed in a May 2 raid by US Navy Seals in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad.
Al-Zawahri, who is believed to be operating from somewhere near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, also criticised the US for burying bin Laden at sea.
“He went to his God as a martyr, the man who terrified America while alive and terrifies it in death, so much so that they trembled at the idea of him having a tomb,” he said.
Al-Zawahri – who referenced the toppling of rulers in Tunisia and Egypt and continued uprisings in Libya, Yemen and Syria – tried to cast recent developments as in line with his group’s long-time goal: to destroy America and its allies. He said America now faces the international Muslim community.
“Our brothers who are working in Islam in all places, I tell you that our hands are extended to you and our hearts are open to you, so that we can work together to make Allah’s word the highest and to make Islamic law in Muslim lands the ruler, not the ruled,” he said in a video released on militant websites.