Al Qaeda vows revenge for bin Laden’s death

CAIRO — Al Qaeda confirmed the killing of Osama bin Laden and vowed revenge, saying Friday that Americans’ “happiness will turn to sadness.” The statement was the first by the terror network since its leader was slain in a U.S. commando raid against his Pakistani hideout.

The statement, written in typical al Qaeda style and in the name of the organization’s General Command, seemed mostly intended to reassure followers that the terror group remains vigorous and intact.

The statement was dated Tuesday, the day after bin Laden’s death. Its authenticity could not be independently confirmed, but it was posted on militant websites Friday by the al-Fajr Center, al Qaeda’s online media distribution network.

“The blood of the holy warrior sheik, Osama bin Laden, God bless him, is too precious to us and to all Muslims to go in vain,” the statement said. “We will remain, God willing, a curse chasing the Americans and their agents, following them outside and inside their countries.”

“Soon, God willing, their happiness will turn to sadness,” it said, “their blood will be mingled with their tears.”

The confirmation by al Qaeda should remove doubt among all but the most die-hard conspiracy theorists that bin Laden is in fact dead.

Earlier Friday, hundreds of members of radical Islamic parties protested in several Pakistan cities against the U.S. raid. Many chanted “Osama is alive” and blasted the U.S. for violating the country’s sovereignty.

The need to provide proof was behind arguments that the U.S. should release a photo of the slain terror leader. U.S. President Barack Obama has chosen to withhold the photo.

The statement also 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 a likely contender to take his place.

“Sheik Osama didn’t build an organization to die when he dies,” the statement read. “The university of faith, Quran and jihad from which bin Laden graduated will not close its doors,” it added.

The statement came as newly uncovered documents found in bin Laden’s residence revealed plans for derailing an American train on the coming 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to U.S. officials. Counterterrorism officials said they believe the plot was only in the initial planning stages at the time.

But it does suggest that bin Laden may have been more involved in operations than the U.S. had assumed when they tried to portray him as merely an inspirational figure who was uninvolved in operations.

It’s unclear whether either the al Qaeda statement or the material seized by the Navy SEALs in Monday’s deadly raid at bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad shows that a serious plot is currently under way.

Al Qaeda, which carried out the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, has never abandoned its hope of again attacking the U.S. homeland. Its plots are usually large-scale and are believed to involve planning over months or even years.

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