An internet forum used by al-Qaida's leadership has published a statement acknowledging Osama bin Laden's death, after contradictory statements created confusion in some jihadi forums. Many militants have refused to believe Western news sources that were unconfirmed by their own leaders.
Hussein bin Mahmud, an al-Qaida leader who comments under the name of Asad al-Jihad2 on jihadi forums, issued at least two statements relating to bin Laden on Monday and Tuesday. "Woe to his enemies. By Allah, we will avenge the killing of the Sheik of Islam," he wrote in his first statement. "Those who wish that jihad has ended or weakened, I tell them: Let us wait a little bit."
Even after the jihadi forum used by al-Qaida's leadership carried the statement, several groups were still in doubt. "From one point of view, the Americans did not present sufficient evidence to prove their claim, and from the other point of view, the sources close to Sheikh Usama bin Laden have not announced their position - confirming or denying - what Obama announced about the above-mentioned martyrdom," said Taliban spokesman Naji Zabihullah, in the name of the organization's Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. "Therefore, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan considers discussion about the subject, before the release of an official statement from sources close to the Sheikh, premature."
The confusion may have been caused by a series of later statements in bin Mahmoud's name, with contradictory messages. One post, entitled "Bin Laden is alive," confirms his death and calls for revenge. "The Lion of Islam," yet another post in his bin Mahmoud's name, is written like a eulogy. However, does not confirm his death and even uses present tense verbs to describe him as alive.
Still another post under Asad al-Jihad2's name, this time without his typical accompanying graphic, is a survey asking whether readers would still support al-Qaida if bin Laden was "possibly" dead.
While ambiguity about his death has caused great confusion, it has not caused President Obama to release photos of bin Laden's body. "The risks of release outweigh the benefits," the president said in an interview with CBS News. "Conspiracy theorists around the world will just claim the photos are doctored anyway, and there is a real risk that releasing the photos will only serve to inflame public opinion in the Middle East."