Al-Qaida on Friday confirmed the killing of Osama bin Laden and warned of retaliation, saying
The confirmation came in an Internet statement posted on militant websites, signed by "the general leadership" of al-Qaida.
The announcement opens the way for the group to name a successor to bin Laden. His deputy Ayman al-Zawahri is now the most prominent figure in the group and is a very likely contender to take his place. The U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, thought to be hiding in
The statement, dated May 3, was the first by the terror network since bin Laden was killed Monday by
The statement's authenticity could not be independently confirmed, but it was posted on websites where the group traditionally puts out its messages.
The statement vowed that al-Qaida would not deviate from the path of armed struggle and said bin Laden's blood "is more precious to us and to every Muslim than to be wasted in vain."
'Curse that chases' Americans
"It (bin Laden's blood) will remain, with permission from Allah the Almighty, a curse that chases the Americans and their agents, and goes after them inside and outside their countries," the militant network said in a statement released on Islamist Internet forums and translated by the SITE monitoring service.
"Soon, God willing, their happiness will turn to sadness," it said, "their blood will be mingled with their tears."
In the statement, al-Qaida also called on the people of Pakistan — "on whose land Sheikh Osama was killed" — to rise up in revolt against its leaders "to cleanse this shame that has been attached to them by a clique of traitors and thieves ... and in general to cleanse their country from the filth of the Americans who spread corruption in it."
'Humble' bin Laden
It also said that an audio message bin Laden recorded a week before his death would be issued soon.
"Before the sheikh passed from this world and before he could share with the Islamic nation in its joys over its revolutions in the face of the oppressors, he recorded a voice recording of congratulations and advice which we will publish soon, God willing," the militant group said.
On the issue of al-Qaida's new leader, security analyst Peter Bergen, author of "The Longest War: Enduring Conflict Between America and Al Qaeda," told TODAY that if al-Zawahiri took over al-Qaida, he would "run it into the ground."
"He's not well liked or well regarded, even by people in his own Egyptian, sort of, Jihadist group,"
The CNN terrorism analyst said he had interviewed many people who knew bin Laden and even those who didn't like him admitted he had some appealing qualities. People spoke of him as being "humble" and "modest,"
"No one describes feelings of love for Ayman al-Zawahiri,"
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.