The head of al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing vowed to fight on after the killing of Osama bin Laden saying “what is coming is greater and worse,” in a statement posted on the Internet yesterday.
“You have to fight one generation after the other, until your life is ruined, your days are disturbed and you face disgrace. The fight between us and you was not led by Osama alone,” said Nasser al-Wuhayshi, addressing al Qaeda’s enemies.
“What is coming is greater and worse, and what you will be facing is more intense and harmful,” said the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in a eulogy to Osama bin Laden posted on the Islamist militant website As-Ansar.
AQAP is seen as one of al Qaeda’s most aggressive regional wings. It has staged several foiled strikes on U.S. and Saudi targets, using novel tactics.
U.S. forces killed bin Laden in a raid on his hideout in Pakistan last week after a nearly 10-year hunt for one of the main orchestrators of the September 11 attacks.
Nasser al-Wuhayshi, also a top target of U.S. forces, was a close personal aide to bin Laden in Afghanistan in the 1990s, and he has stuck closely to the leader’s ideology and operational tactics.
He wrote: “The Americans killed the Sheikh, but have they killed the faith of the Sheikh, his methodology and his call, and the combat morale of the Ummah the Sheikh has revived?”
Analysts have said AQAP may step further into the spotlight after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden, possibly by organizing revenge attacks.
AQAP has claimed responsibility for a foiled 2009 attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound plane. It was also blamed for bombs found in cargo en route to the United States in 2010.
“Tell the Americans that the ember of jihad is glowing stronger and brighter than it was during the life of the Sheikh,” Wuhayshi said.
Impoverished Yemen has been rocked by nearly three months of protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 32-year rule.
Washington and Gulf states, including neighboring oil giant and AQAP target Saudi Arabia, are eager to negotiate a power transfer deal to prevent the country from collapsing — a scenario that could give AQAP more room to operate.
On Saturday, a Yemeni tribal source said that Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born, prominent al Qaeda activist known for encouraging attacks on the United States, was not hit by a U.S. drone aircraft attack that killed two mid-level leaders of al Qaeda militants in Yemen last week.