Al-Zawahiri named new al-Qaeda chief

Group’s second-in-command appointed leader following killing of Osama bin Laden

Al-Qaeda has named Ayman al-Zawahiri as its new chief following the killing of Osama bin Laden, the group has said in a statement.
“The general command of al-Qaeda announces, after consultations, the appointment of Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri as head of the group,” the statement, issued in the name of the general command and posted online on Thursday, said.
US special forces killed bin Laden in a raid on the Pakistani city of Abbottabad on May 2.
Al-Qaeda under the new leadership of al-Zawahiri will pursue its fight against the US and Israel, the group said in the statement.
“We seek with the aid of God to call for the religion of truth and incite our nation to fight … by carrying out jihad against the apostate invaders … with their head being crusader America and its servant Israel, and whoever supports them,” it said.
Al-Zawahiri has been al-Qaeda’s number two for years.

His whereabouts are unknown.

Believed to be in his late 50s, al-Zawahiri met bin Laden in the mid-1980s when both were in Pakistan to support guerrillas fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan.

The Egyptian-born vowed earlier this month to press ahead with al-Qaeda’s campaign against the US and its allies, in what appeared to be his first public response to bin Laden’s death.

“The Sheikh [bin Laden] has departed, may God have mercy on him, to his God as a martyr, and we must continue on his path of jihad to expel the invaders from the land of Muslims and to purify it from injustice,” he said in a video message posted online.

“Today, and thanks be to God, America is not facing an individual or a group … but a rebelling nation which has awoken from its sleep in a jihadist renaissance challenging it wherever it is.”

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