Al-Qaeda warns US of new jihad after bin Laden

Al-Qaeda warns US of new jihad after bin Laden

The warning from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula came as top US Senator John Kerry announced a trip to mend fences with a resentful Pakistan, where bin Laden was gunned down, but also to seek answers on how he came to be there.

AQAP leader Nasir al-Wahishi said in a statement posted on an Islamist website that the "ember of jihad (holy war) is brighter" following the May 2 death of bin Laden, according to the SITE monitoring group today.

The Yemen-based fugitive warned Americans not to fool themselves that the "matter will be over" with the killing of bin Laden, the Saudi-born architect of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

"Do not think of the battle superficially ... What is coming is greater and worse, and what is awaiting you is more intense and harmful," Wahishi said, according to a SITE translation.

"We promise Allah that we will remain firm in the covenant and that we will continue the march, and that the death of the sheikh will only increase our persistence to fight the Jews and the Americans in order to take revenge."

The United States has warned of the threat posed by Islamist militancy in Yemen, the homeland of bin Laden's father, and has warned of the potential for the country to become a new staging ground for al-Qaeda.

The AQAP was born of a January 2009 merger between the Saudi and Yemeni al-Qaeda branches. It claimed a failed attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound US airliner in December 2009, and was accused last October of sending parcel bombs addressed to US synagogues that were disguised inside computer printers.

Four days after bin Laden was killed in the US raid on his sprawling compound, about two hours' drive from the Pakistani capital Islamabad, a US drone attack targeted US-Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi in southern Yemen.

The cleric, who Washington says has strong links to al-Qaeda, survived the attack but two AQAP members were killed.

The discovery of bin Laden in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad after a decade-long manhunt has plunged testy relations between Islamabad and Washington deeper into trouble.

Pakistan is an uneasy ally in the US-led war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda insurgency in neighbouring Afghanistan, and receives billions of dollars in US aid annually.