…whoever he may be. They are anxious to emphasize that their movement is based on ideology, not on a charismatic personality. From AP, with thanks to all who sent this in:
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Sympathizers of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi rushed Friday to swear allegiance to his successor on Islamic militant Web sites, but it was still unclear who that would be.
Several militant Web forums were flooded with messages of well-wishers pledging to “hear and obey” the man they claimed was the new “emir,” or leader, of al-Qaida in Iraq: Abu Abdul-Rahman al-Iraqi.
Al-Iraqi has appeared in past statements from al-Zarqawi’s group as the “deputy emir.” His name was on a statement issued Thursday by the group confirming al-Zarqawi’s death in a U.S. airstrike and vowing to continue on his path of jihad, or holy war.
But there was confusion over whether he was still alive. The U.S. military said the Wednesday evening airstrike that killed al-Zarqawi also killed his “spiritual adviser,” a man U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell identified as “Abdul-Rahman” or “Sheik Abdul-Rahman.”
It was not known if “Abdul-Rahman” and “Abu Abdul-Rahman al-Iraqi” were the same person….
Meanwhile, the U.S. military has put forward another name. Caldwell identified the “most logical” al-Zarqawi successor as “Abu al-Masri.”
Caldwell could likely be referring to Abu Ayyub al-Masri, who was identified in a February 2005 announcement by U.S. Central Command as a close associate of al-Zarqawi. Central Command put a $50,000 reward on al-Masri’s head.
Caldwell said al-Masri was believed to have come to Iraq in 2002 after training in Afghanistan. His mission, Caldwell said, was to create an al-Qaida cell in Baghdad. Al-Masri was believed to be an expert at constructing roadside bombs, the leading cause of U.S. military casualties in Iraq.
American military officials did not immediately respond to requests for clarification on Abdul-Rahman and al-Masri.
Al-Qaida in Iraq has not put out a statement naming a successor to al-Zarqawi. The group issues “official” messages on militant Web forums that are clearly marked as coming from the organization. Though confirming any statements put out on the Internet is difficult, there are consistent markers “” such as repeated names “” that suggest they are authentic.
In the message put out Thursday, al-Iraqi still held the title “deputy emir,” suggesting the group had not confirmed he was the new leader.
But sympathizers who often write on the Web forums appeared convinced he was.
“After the appointment of Sheik Abu Abdul-Rahman al-Iraqi, we must all swear allegiance to him,” read one posting, signed by a participant calling himself The Syrian Lion. “May God grant us someone even better than Sheik Abu Musab.”
On several Web sites, dozens posted messages with the traditional Islamic oath of allegiance to the emir, promising to “hear and obey.”…
“The death of our leaders is life for us,” said the al-Qaida in Iraq statement Thursday. “It will only increase our persistence in continuing the holy war so that the word of God will be supreme.”