A month and a half after the death of Osama bin Laden in a raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a statement attributed to al-Qaida said his deputy, Egyptian-born Ayman al-Zawahri, 59, has succeeded him as head of the organization. The group’s statement, which was posted on an Islamist website, said al-Zawahri would lead the fight against the U.S. and Israel.
Al-Zawahri said in a video euology earlier this month that “[t]he sheikh 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.”
The BBC analyzes the succession:
The BBC’s Middle East correspondent, Jon Leyne, says priorities for al-Qaeda’s new leader may include attempting to to mount a big attack to show the organisation is still in business.
In addition, he says, Zawahiri will want to turn the wave of unrest in the Middle East to al-Qaeda’s advantage - perhaps building more of a power base in Yemen and working to intensify the instability there.
You can read a series of statements his statements, dating back to 1998, here.
Al-Zawahri, who was formally trained as an eye surgeon, was seen by many as the automatic successor to bin Laden. Analysts say he is effective as an organizer but is less charismatic than bin Laden.
Large Protests in Greece Fuel Political Uncertainty
After riots broke out in Athens, with protesters decrying austerity measures being considered by members of parliament, Prime Minister George Papandreou is looking to reshuffle his cabinet and shore up his Socialist Party, which has seen growing division over the issue in recent days.
Papandreou was expected to call an emergency session on Thursday.
The austerity measures being considered would need to be in place by the end of June in order for Greece to receive an aid package to address the country’s steep debt from the International Monetary Fund and European Union. The measures have been controversial within the government and have spurred the demonstrations, which police used tear gas to contain on Wednesday.
Reports: Town on Pakistan Border Stormed by Militants
Pakistani officials say an estimated 200 heavily armed militants crossed the border from Afghanistan and raided the town of Mamoond, injuring local residents. The attack comes weeks after a similar raid in the Upper Dir region of Pakistan, which killed 25 Pakistani troops.
The border area is a sore point for both countries, as well as NATO forces in the area, and Pakistan’s northwest tribal areas pose a difficulty for rooting out insurgents.
Blast Targets Police Headquarters in Nigeria
An explosion at the police headquarters in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, created a thick plume of black smoke and destroyed nearby parked cars, according to witnesses. A police spokesman said two people were killed in the attack.
The body of a suicide bomber is also said to have been recovered. Though there have been several recent bombings, the use of suicide bombers remains relatively rare.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but a militant Islamist organization known as Boko Haram has launched several recent attacks on government and police facilities.
Violence in Vancouver After Stanley Cup Loss
Fans took to the streets of Vancouver, British Columbia, Wednesday night, rioting and looting following the Canucks’ 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins in the Stanely Cup finals. Vehicles — including several police cars — were set on fire and shop windows smashed in as disappointed and drunken fans gathered in Vancouver’s streets. There were no reports of serious injuries.
Vancouver’s mayor, Gregor Robertson, said “Vancouver is a world-class city and it is embarrassing and shameful to see the type of violence and disorder we’ve seen tonight.”
Video from the scene shows cars being destroyed in the street and rioters being arrested.