Count Al-Qaida among those who believe that U.S. forces killed Osama Bin Laden.
The terrorist group confirmed the killing of its leader in a statement posted on militant websites Friday, the Associated Press reports.
The posting was the first statement al-Qaida has made since Bin Laden was killed Monday (Sunday back in the U.S. with the time difference), and warns of possible retaliation.
“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, according to the AP. “We will remain, God Willing, a curse chasing the Americans and their agents, following them outside and inside their countries.”
The statement added: "Soon, God willing, their happiness will turn to sadness, their blood will be mingled with their tears."
The post’s authenticity has not yet been independently confirmed but it was posted on websites that the group is said to frequently use to disseminate information.
The statement, dated May 3 and signed by “the general leadership” of al-Qaida, opens the way for the group to name a successor to Bin Laden. The current odds-on favorite appears to be Ayman al-Zawahri, who is the group’s most prominent figure now that Bin Laden is dead.
The AP said that the 11-paragraph statement “struck a tone of calmness and continuation” and was meant to send a message that Bin Laden’s death would not mean the end of al-Qaida.
“It is impossible, impossible. 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.
UPDATED at 10:57 a.m.: Pakistani security forces have arrested 40 people in Islamabad suspected of having connections with Bin Laden, the Open Source Center reports.
The arrests are the “second phase” of the U.S. operation that killed Bin Laden, Pakistani sources tell the center, which bills itself as “the U.S. Government's premier provider of foreign open source intelligence.”
The reported arrests come at a convenient time for Pakistan officials, who are scrambling to counter accusations from Washington that they helped Bin Laden stay hidden from U.S. forces.