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WORLD: Al-Zawahri becomes new al-Qaida leader

Al-Zawahri becomes new al-Qaida leader

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 al-Qaida'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.''

Pressure on Gadhafi to end fighting, reign

TRIPOLI, Libya -- Renewed diplomatic efforts to halt Libya's civil war appeared to be gaining momentum Thursday as thunderous NATO airstrikes once again hammered Moammar Gadhafi's stronghold of Tripoli.

Officials in the capital say they are open to international efforts that would bring an end to four months of fighting between forces loyal to the longtime leader and rebels who control the eastern third of the country along with pockets in the west.

But they insist that Gadhafi will not bow to international pressure to push him aside.

Syria taking many males into custody

GUVECCI, Turkey -- Syrian security forces fanned out through villages and towns in the northern province of Idlib on Thursday, randomly hauling in males over age 16 as the government worked to silence a center of anti-regime protest.

In this border region, where thousands of Syrian civilians have fled to havens in Turkey, Turkish officials were preparing to send food, clean water, medicine and other aid to thousands more stranded on the Syrian side.