CAIRO (AP) - A top al-Qaida ideologue vowed revenge Monday for the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces, in the first jihadist admission of the militant leader's death.
The reaction of the online jihadi community to their hero's death varied between expressions of disbelief mixed with protestations of revenge and vows to continue the fight against Islam's enemies.
The prominent commentator, going by the online name "Assad al-Jihad2," posted on extremist websites a long eulogy for bin Laden and said the Islamic holy war against the West was far from over.
"Woe to his enemies. By God, we will avenge the killing of the Sheik of Islam," he wrote. "Those who wish that jihad has ended or weakened, I tell them: Let us wait a little bit."
With bin Laden dead, Ayman al-Zawahri becomes the top candidate for the world's top terror job.
It's too early to tell how exactly al-Qaida would change with its founder and supreme mentor gone, but the group under al-Zawahri would likely be further radicalized, unleashing a new wave of attacks to avenge bib Laden's killing by U.S. troops in Pakistan on Monday to send a message that it's business as usual.
Al-Zawahri's extremist views and his readiness to use deadly violence are beyond doubt.
In a 2001 treatise, "Knights Under the Prophet's Banner," he set down the longterm strategy for the jihadi movement - to inflict "as many casualties as possible" on the Americans, while trying to establish control in a nation as a base "to launch the battle to restore the holy caliphate" of Islamic rule across the Muslim world.
Elsewhere, those who followed or sympathized with bin Laden expressed shock and dismay, or vowed revenge.
"My heart is broken," Mohebullah, a Taliban fighter-turned-farmer in eastern Afghanistan, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "In the past, we heard a lot of rumors about his death, but if he did die, it is a disaster and a black day."
Salah Anani, a Palestinian-Jordan militant leader accused of links to al-Qaida, said, "There will soon be another leader."
Meanwhile, some in the war-torn nation of Afghanistan toutted bin Laden's legacy.
"He was like a hero in the Muslim world," said Sayed Jalal, a rickshaw driver in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. "His struggle was always against non-Muslims and infidels, and against superpowers."