The United States has vowed to hunt down and kill new al-Qaeda "emir" Ayman al-Zawahiri like it did in the case of his predecessor Osama bin Laden. "He (Zawahiri) and his organisation still threaten us. As we did both seek to capture and kill and succeed in killing bin Laden, we certainly do or will do the same thing with Zawahiri," Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.
Mullen yesterday said he was not surprised by the news reports that Zawahiri, who is carrying a $25 million reward on his head, has succeeded bin Laden. Al-Qaeda has named al-Zawahiri as its new chief following the killing of long-time leader bin Laden by US commandos in May 2 raid in Pakistan.
In his last press conference as the Secretary of Defense, Gates said he is not sure it's a position anybody should aspire to be the al-Qaeda chief, under the circumstances. "Bin Laden has been the leader of al-Qaeda, essentially since its inception.
In that particular context, he had a peculiar charisma that I think Zawahiri does not have. I think he was much more operationally engaged than we have the sense Zawahiri has been," he said.
"We should be mindful that this announcement by al-Qaeda reminds us that, despite having suffered a huge loss with the killing of bin Laden -- and a number of others -- al-Qaeda seeks to perpetuate itself, seeks to find replacements for those who have been killed, and remains committed to the agenda that bin Laden put before them," Gates said.