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Al-Zawahri succeeds bin Laden as al-Qaida leader By Hamza Hendawi Associated Press Writer

CAIRO — Osama bin Laden’s longtime second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, has taken control of al-Qaida, the group declared Thursday, marking the ascendancy of a man driven by hatred of the United States who helped plan the 9/11 attacks. Al-Zawahri is considered the organizational brain of the terror group, highly skilled at planning and logistics. Analysts said he could set his sights on a spectacular attack and on building up alQaida’s already robust presence in Yemen to establish his leadership credentials. His fanaticism and the depth of his hatred for the United States and Israel are likely to define al-Qaida’s actions under al-Zawahri’s tutelage. In a 2001 treatise that offered a glimpse of his violent thoughts, al-Zawahri set down al-Qaida’s strategy: to inflict “as many casualties as possible” on the Americans. “Pursuing the Americans and Jews is not an impossible task,” he wrote. “Killing them is not impossible, whether by a bullet, a knife stab, a bomb or a strike with an iron bar.” Al-Zawahri’s hatred of

America was also deeply personal: His wife and at least two of their six children were killed in a U.S. Al-Zawahri airstrike following the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. The Egyptian-born alZawahri had been expected to inherit al-Qaida’s leadership, although the delay in announcing his succession led some counterterrorism analysts to speculate about a power struggle following the May 2 killing of bin Laden in a U.S. raid in Pakistan. “The general command of al-Qaida, after completing consultations, declares Abu Mohammed, Ayman alZawahri, God help him, the one leading the group,” said a statement attributed to alQaida and posted on militant websites, including several known to be affiliated with the group. It gave no details about the selection process but said the choice of al-Zawahri was the best tribute to the memory of the group’s “martyrs.”

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. will pursue the new al-Qaida leader just as it did bin Laden. “As we did both seek to capture and succeed in killing bin Laden, we certainly will do the same thing with Zawahri,” he said at a news conference in Washington. Al-Zawahri, who turns 60 on Sunday and has a $25 million bounty on his head, takes control of al-Qaida at a time when it is struggling to stay relevant in the face of popular uprisings across the Arab world that are demanding Western-style democracy instead of the pan-Islamic nation sought by Islamists. Still, the lawlessness gripping Yemen, a poor Arabian Peninsula nation, offers alQaida a rare opportunity to gain a strategic foothold in the Arab world, bringing it a step closer to the ability to export its extremist brand of Islam to the region. “He will send his best f ighters and organizers there,” said Abdel-Rehim Ali, an Egyptian expert on terrorism and extremist Islamic groups. “Yemen is the closest target and a great start for alZawahri to realize his dream of an Islamic emirate.”

Al-Qaida militants and their allies in Yemen already have taken advantage of the turmoil there to seize control of towns in the south and strike deals with local garrisons to train with weaponry and live openly. Al-Zawahri, a trained surgeon who hails from an upper-middle-class Cairo family, lacks the populist appeal of his late boss, throwing into doubt whether he would be able to lure young Muslims, particularly in the West, to join al-Qaida’s cause. In Washington, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said al-Zawahri lacks the “peculiar charisma” of bin Laden and said there is suspicion about him among militants because he is Egyptian.

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Lawmakers pan Obama claim on hostilities in Libya By Donna Cassata Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — Republicans and Democrats on Thursday derided President Barack Obama’s claim that U.S. air attacks against Libya do not constitute hostilities and demanded that the commander in chief seek congressional approval for the 3-month-old military operation. In an escalating constitutional fight, House Speaker John Boehner threatened to withhold money for the mission, pitting a Congress eager to exercise its power of the purse against a dug-in White House. The Ohio Republican signaled that the House could take action as early as next week. “The accumulated consequence of all this delay, confusion and obfuscation has been a wholesale revolt in Congress against the administration’s policy,” said Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee who has backed Obama’s actions against Libya. The administration, in a report it reluctantly gave to

Congress on Wednesday, said that because the United States is in a supporting role in the NATO-led mission, American forces are not facing the hostilities that would require the president to seek such congressional consent under the War Powers Resolution. The 1973 law prohibits the military from being involved in actions for more than 60 days without congressional authorization, plus a 30-day extension. The 60-day deadline passed last month with the White House saying it is in compliance with the law. The 90-day mark is Sunday. In the meantime, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has maintained his grip on power, and the White House says if the mission continues until September, it will cost $1.1 billion. Instead of calming lawmakers, the White House report and its claims about no hostilities further inflamed the fierce balance-of-power fight. “We have got drone attacks under way, we’re spending $10 million a day,” Boehner told reporters. “We’re part of an effort to drop bombs on

Gadhafi’s compound. It doesn’t pass the straight-face test, in my view, that we’re not in the midst of hostilities.” Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., a combat veteran and member of the Armed Services Committee, scoffed at the notion. “Spending a billion dollars and dropping bombs on people sounds like hostilities to me,” Webb said. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., called the claims “really totally bizarre.” Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., said telling Congress and Americans “that this is not a war insults our intelligence. I won’t stand for it and neither will my constituents.” The White House pushed back, singling out Boehner and saying he has not always demanded that presidents abide by the War Powers Resolution. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Boehner’s views “stand in contrast to the views he expressed in 1999 when he called the War Powers Act ‘constitutionally suspect’ and warned Congress to ‘resist the temptation to take any action that would do further damage to the institution of the presidency.’”

Scientists ID flash in distant galaxy LOS ANGELES (A P ) — Astronomers think they have solved the mystery of an extraordinary flash spied in a faraway galaxy, saying it came from a massive black hole that devoured a star after it wandered too close. The awesome energy released by the feeding frenzy was f irst detected by NASA’s Swift satellite on March 28 and was later confirmed by a fleet of space and ground telescopes. Some scientists initially thought the bright flash was a gamma-ray burst from a star collapsing, but flaring from such an event typically lasts only a few hours. Instead of fading, the cosmic outburst continued to burn bright and emit highenergy radiation that could be observed even today. Two separate teams pored through data and concluded that an unsuspecting star the size of our sun likely got sucked in by the powerful tug of a giant black hole. Until then, the black hole had been relatively inactive. The findings were published online Thursday in the journal Science. As the black hole gobbled up the star, it streamed a beam of energy straight at Earth that was recorded by telescopes. The stellar feast occurred in the heart of a galaxy 3.8 billion light years from Earth. A light year is about 6 trillion miles. “This was clearly different than anything we’ve ever

Quirky to essential. “As a KU graduate, I love being able to THIS ARTIST’S IMAGE provided by the University of Warwick shows a star being distorted by its close passage to a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy.

AP Photo

connect with all kinds of folks and share information about my alma mater — from the quirky to the essential — through the tips I get for Heard on the Hill.”

seen before,” said one of the team leaders, Joshua Bloom, an astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley who classified the event as extremely rare. Black holes are swirling,

super-dense cores of galaxies that vacuum up nearly everything in sight. How they grow so huge remains a mystery. Scientists think the latest observation could help them better understand how galaxies form.

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Lawrence Journal-World 06-17-11  
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