Al-Qaida on Friday finally confirmed what the rest of the world has known since Monday: the terror group's leader Osama bin Laden is dead. The announcement was made in a four-page document posted on a website associated with al-Qaida. It is dated May 3.
It was the first statement from the group since US special forces raided a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan where bin Laden had been hiding. US President Barack Obama announced bin Laden's death in a television address on Sunday night.
The document posted online, which has been seen by SPIEGEL ONLINE, says that bin Laden died as a "martyr," and was signed by the "general leadership" of al-Qaida. "Osama bin Laden was not a prophet, rather he was a simple Muslim." It called on Muslims in Pakistan to rise up and cleanse themselves of the "shame" resulting from bin Laden's death in their country.
The statement did not indicate who might succeed bin Laden, but the confirmation of his death has raised expectations that a successor might soon be named.
"We stress that the blood of the holy warrior sheikh, Osama bin Laden, God bless him, is precious to us and to all Muslims," the document reads. "We will remain, God willing, a curse chasing the Americans and their agents, following them outside and inside their countries." It continues: "Soon, God willing, their happiness will turn to sadness."
UN Wants Details of Killing from US
The document confirming bin Laden's death is unusually long. Several paragraphs are devoted to the glorification of the erstwhile al-Qaida leader. "Were it possible to extinguish the light of Islam and the jihad with the death of one man, it would have already happened with the death of the Prophet Muhammad," it reads.
Following the raid in Abbottabad, located just north of the Pakistani capital Islamabad, US troops took bin Laden's body with them and buried it at sea. Some in the Muslim world had raised doubts as to whether bin Laden was, in fact dead as a result.
The United Nations on Friday also requested that the US release more information about the raid in an effort to determine its legality under international law. Speaking in Geneva, Christoph Heyns, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, and Martin Scheinin, special rapporteur on protecting human rights while countering terrorism, said in a statement that while deadly force may be used in certain circumstances, "the norm should be that terrorists be dealt with as criminals."
In particular, the pair demanded details that would reveal "if the planning of the mission allowed an effort to capture bin Laden."
With reporting by Yassin Musharbash