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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Posters to jihadist websites mourn, celebrate bin Laden

(CNN) -- World leaders and jubilant Americans on Monday acclaimed the news of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's death in a raid by U.S. military forces on a compound in Pakistan.

But the chatter on the radical websites that bin Laden's terrorist network used to speak to the world mourned his passing with an edge of defiance, celebrating him as a martyr and vowing al Qaeda will continue despite its leader's death.

"Congratulations for dying as a martyr and a fighter in the sake of Allah," one poster wrote.

"We won't cry today, but we will revenge. Men and women in America will cry." another post read, echoing warnings from Western leaders that the terrorist network will almost certainly move to avenge bin Laden's death.

The sites, frequented by radical Islamists who subscribed to bin Laden's philosophies, have played a significant role in attracting and radicalizing potential terror recruits and the broader radical Islamist community and have been frequently used by al Qaeda and its affiliates to broadcast statements.

Video and audio messages purported to be from bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, his second-in-command, have shown up for years on jihadist websites to exhort followers to keep the faith and continue their fight against the West.

Many of the Web posters on Monday reacted to bin Laden's death by referring to him as a "shaheed," or martyr. One was headlined "The Lion of Jihad was killed in a fierce battle."

Some mourned.

"Teary eyes and sad hearts go out to you, the dearest and most noble of people." one poster wrote.

Others celebrated bin Laden's death as a promotion of sorts.

"May Allah increase your rank in Jannah o Sheikh Osama!" one poster wrote. Jannah can be translated as "paradise."

"May Allah give you a place next to our beloved Prophet (saws), amen amen," wrote another. "Saws" is an abbreviation for the phrase meaning "peace be upon him."

Not everyone could believe what they were hearing.

"The news came down on my ears this morning like thunderbolt," one poster commented.

Another simply hoped the reports were lies.

Web messages attributed to bin Laden have touched on several issues. He urged Muslims to tackle famine and other problems plaguing parts of the Muslim world and made assorted threats against the West.

The speaker made reference to a range of jihadi battlegrounds, such as Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and the Palestinian territories,

Messages had been posted as late as January 21, when an audiotape of a man purported to be bin Laden said the release of two French journalists abducted by militants hinged on France's military role in Afghanistan.

"We repeat the same message to you," said the speaker in an audiotape played on the Al-Jazeera satellite news network. "The release of your prisoners from the hands of our brethren depends on the withdrawal of your soldiers from our countries."

The speaker warned the French government that its alliance with the United States will prove costly.

Taliban militants captured the journalists -- Herve Ghesquiere and Stephane Taponier from France 3 Television -- in December 2009 and threatened to kill them if France did not meet their demands, which included the release of some detainees held by France. It is believed the two remain in Taliban custody.

Bin Laden also gave interviews and made statements and videos before the September 11, 2001, attacks.

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