Thursday, May 19, 2011
Al Qaeda has released a posthumous audio recording by Osama bin Laden in which the group's ex-leader praises revolutions sweeping the Arab world and calls for more "tyrants" to be toppled.
The release comes as the terrorist organisation faces a potential power struggle fuelled by the naming of bin Laden's replacement.
In the 12-minute message, bin Laden, who was killed in a US raid in Pakistan on May 2, backed the uprisings which began in Tunisia and have spread across much of North Africa and the Middle East.
A voice which appears to be bin Laden's refers to the uprisings which began in the Maghreb region of North Africa.
"The sun of the revolution has risen from the Maghreb. The light of the revolution came from Tunisia. It has given the nation tranquility and made the faces of the people happy," bin Laden said in the message.
Tunisia's president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown in January, followed by Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak after mass protests centred on Cairo's Tahrir Square.
In his message, Bin Laden backs efforts to topple more leaders in the Muslim world, calling on Al Qaeda supporters to "set up an operations room that follows up events and works in parallel ... to save the people that are struggling to bring down their tyrants".
"Tunisia was the first but swiftly the knights of Egypt have taken a spark from the free people of Tunisia to Tahrir Square," he said, adding "It has made the rulers worried".
It has also been reported by US and Pakistani media that Al Qaeda has named Saif al-Adel as its interim leader.
The Egyptian is suspected of involvement in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and also helped to plan the bomb attacks against the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
While some analysts believe he may have been appointed as a temporary leader, there is speculation that his accession to the top job could cause a power struggle.
Jason Burke, a journalist and author of a book on Al Qaeda, says the new leader is a veteran militant.
"He's been close to the very senior leadership of al Qaeda for a very long time," he said.
"He was active in the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan all through the 1990s in Afghanistan as part of Osama bin Laden's close circle.
"He fled Afghanistan in 2001 and is believed to have been detained in Tehran through the last decade, released in 2010... and back in the tribal areas of Pakistan we think since then.
"He's a very experienced, capable man."
Mr Burke says bin Laden's presumed successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has been given another role and he may not be satisfied with his new job title.
"Everyone who has done it for the last 10 years has lasted about two or three years before being either killed or picked up by either the Pakistanis or the Americans," he said.
"The main point of that would be that if al-Zawahiri has indeed been appointed to this position, it's pretty much a demotion. He was in line for the top slot.
"And therefore if these reports are accurate - and I have to stress that this kind of thing is an art, not a science - then it means that he's been overlooked which could well spark a succession crisis within the upper ranks of Al Qaeda."
Even from beyond the grave, it is clear that bin Laden commands enormous respect among Islamic militants.
The Pakistani Taliban has vowed to fight with renewed zeal in the wake of his death.
"We have worked for his mission and we had affection for his personality. He was an invaluable asset because he stood with great zeal against the American and Zionist alliance," said Waliur Rehman, a deputy commander for the group.
"We have to carry out his mission. His mission is alive today and with his departure it will step up a gear. From every part of the world a new Mujahideen will be prepared with new zeal and spirit."
The group's primary target has been Pakistan itself, which the Pakistani Taliban sees as a slave to the US.
But Rehman says the group will also attack forces over the border in Afghanistan.
"We are in the holy duty of jihad against America, NATO and the Zionists, and the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is irrelevant for us," he said.
"With the grace of God our mujahideen are fighting on both sides of the border."
Posted by Cole at 12:27 AM