In a video posted on the Internet on Wednesday, al-Qaida’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, purportedly vowed revenge for the killing of a top group commander in a suspected U.S. attack in Pakistan.
“No chief of ours had died of a natural death, nor has our blood been spilled without a response,” Zawahri said in the video posted on an Islamist Web site, referring to the killing of Abu Laith al-Libi.
Libi, considered as one of Osama bin Laden’s top lieutenants in Afghanistan, was killed in an suspected U.S. missile strike that killed up to 13 foreign militants in Pakistan’s North Waziristan border area in late January.
“If one of our chiefs passes, another arises in his place,” Zawahri said, without making a specific threat.
“So seek help O Americans and agents of Americans ... from those seeking a way out ... They will be of no help to you,” he said, referring to Muslim clerics who have criticized jihadist militants.
Libi’s prominence was highlighted last year by his appearance in a video with the group’s deputy leader. He was the first spokesman to announce bin Laden had survived the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.
U.S. media have said the Libyan-born militant was believed to be behind a suicide bombing in February 2007 that killed 23 people outside the main U.S. base in Afghanistan during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney.
In October the U.S. military in Afghanistan named Libi among several “mid-level” al-Qaida and Taliban leaders and offered a $200,000 bounty for him, U.S. media reported.
The nine minute, 59 seconds-long tape, entitled "An Elegy to the Martyred Commander Abu Laith al-Libi," was issued by al-Sahab, the organization's media branch. The video has English subtitles. It's authenticity could not be immediately verified.