LONDON, June 16 (IANS): Al Qaeda has appointed Ayman al-Zawahiri as its new chief following the death of its founder Osama Bin Laden, BBC reported.
Bin Laden was killed by US special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan May 2.
Al Qaeda's general command said in a statement Thursday that "Sheikh Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, may God guide him, assumed responsibility as the group's amir (leader)".
The statement warned that Al Qaeda would continue to fight "the holy war against the US and Israel" under al-Zawahiri's direction.
The statement was disseminated by the al-Fajr Media Centre, Al Qaeda's media wing.
Egypt-born al-Zawahiri is believed by some experts to have been the "operational brains" behind the 9/11 attack on the US. He was bin Laden's deputy for many years.
Security experts say al-Zawahiri - thought to be in his late 50s - may be hiding in the Afghan-Pakistan border region.
Al-Zawahiri had just warned recently that bin Laden would continue to "terrify" the US from beyond the grave.
In a video message posted on the internet, he said: "The sheikh (bin Laden) 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."
"Today, and thanks be to God, America is not facing an individual or a group, but a rebelling nation, which has awoken from its sleep in a jihadist renaissance," BBC quoted al-Zawahiri as saying in the video.
Al Qaeda was originally set up in Pakistan's Peshawar city in 1988, according to BBC. The terror outfit has allied groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Indonesia and Iraq, among other countries.