jihadist 311 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Erik de Castro)
DUBAI - Members of militant Islamist forums said on Monday they prayed the news of Osama bin Laden's death was not true and hinted at retaliation if it was.
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They were reacting to word from Washington that the al Qaida leader was killed in a shootout with US forces on Sunday.
"Oh God, please make this news not true... God curse you Obama," said one message on an Arabic language forum. "Oh Americans... it is still legal for us to cut your necks."
US forces killed bin Laden in a raid on his hideout in Pakistan,
President Barack Obama said, ending a nearly 10-year worldwide hunt for
the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.
His killing, in a mansion outside of the Pakistani city of Islamabad,
dealt a symbolic blow to the global militant network, although Islamist
forum posters said the strike would not change their commitment to
fighting Western powers.
"Osama may be killed but his message of Jihad will never die. Brothers
and sisters, wait and see, his death will be a blessing in disguise,"
said a poster on another Islamist forum.
Another forum member pointed to the irony of bin Laden's location,
contrasting with long-time rumors that he was hiding in caves. "So
after 10 years of hiding in mountains, he ends up getting killed in a
mansion outside of Islamabad. Interesting."
But the prevailing sentiment was one of grief.
A poster on the Arabic-language Ansar forum said, "God's revenge on you,
you Roman dog, God's revenge on you crusaders... this is a tragedy
brothers, a tragedy."
Online forums for militant Islamists have been the key means of passing
messages from bin Laden and his second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri, as
well as al Qaida's regional branches, such as al Qaida in the Arabian
Peninsula in Yemen.
"Forums play a role in communications and ideas for al Qaida followers,
similar to the way Facebook and Twitter were used by democracy
protesters in the Arab revolutions of 2011. It's a powerful medium,"
said Theodore Karasik, a Dubai-based security analyst for the INEGMA
Militants also commonly use the forums to pass tips for making
explosives, discuss methods of attacks or voice their opinions on world
events in relation to Islamist views.
Many argued on Monday they could not believe the news of Osama bin
Laden's death until it was confirmed online by al Qaida's official news
"Everyone try to be calm and pray and wait for a response from our
brothers at al-Fajr center to learn the accuracy of the news," a message
on Ansar news said.
Others doubted the authenticity of photos circulating on the Internet
depicting the face of bin Laden after his death. They argued previous
pictures of him alive looked older, and his beard grayer, than the
picture which some claimed were of his corpse.
But on the Islamic Awakening forum, some suggested bin Laden's death should be accepted and a new leader found.
"Why can't people admit he was killed? He is a human being, not a prophet. Another man will replace his shoes, it's easy."
Others ridiculed the celebrations playing out in the United States,
where crowds cheered and waved flags outside the White House and at New
York's "Ground Zero", site of the World Trade Center twin towers felled
by hijacked airliners on Sept. 11, 2001.
"Please let them celebrate, they are celebrating their own end," said
Abu Aziza on the Islamic Awakening forum. "Oh Allah destroy this nation
for their hatred and enmity toward your deen (religion)."