Qaeda's Zawahri vows revenge over Libi killing: Web
By Firouz Sedarat
DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri vowed revenge for the killing of a top group commander in a suspected U.S. attack in Pakistan, speaking in a video posted on the Internet on Wednesday.
"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 a 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.
Zawahri, wearing a black turban, spoke as he sat next to an assault rifle in front of shelves full of Islamic books.
"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.
Al Qaeda condemns as sell-outs Muslim clerics, including renowned scholars, who have said its jihadist ideology is un-Islamic.
The video was produced by al Qaeda's media arm As-Sahab and carried English subtitles.
Libi's prominence in al Qaeda was highlighted last year by his appearance in a video with Zawahri. 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. Bagram base in Afghanistan during a visit by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.
In October the U.S. military in Afghanistan named Libi among several "mid-level" al Qaeda and Taliban leaders and offered a $200,000 bounty for him, U.S. media reported.
Some Western anti-terrorism analysts said past killings of leading al Qaeda figures had shown there were usually others ready to fill the gap in the organization's ranks. But other said Libi's killing was a significant U.S. success.
(Editing by Charles Dick)