CAIRO – Osama bin Laden’s deputy on Wednesday warned that America faces not individual terrorists or groups but an international community of Muslims who seek to destroy the nation and its allies. He was delivering a 28-minute videotaped eulogy to the slain al-Qaida leader.

Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaida’s longtime No. 2 man and considered the network’s operational head, also sought to cast a role for the terror group in the popular uprisings shaking the Arab world.

“Today, praise God, America is not facing an individual, a group or a faction,” he said, wearing a white robe and turban with an assault rifle leaning on a wall behind him. “It is facing a nation that is in revolt, having risen from its lethargy to a renaissance of jihad.”

Al-Zawahri also heaped praise on bin Laden, who was killed in a May 2 raid by U.S. Navy SEALs in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad. Al-Zawahri, who is believed to be operating from somewhere near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, also criticized the United States for burying bin Laden at sea.

“He went to his God as a martyr, the man who terrified America while alive and terrifies it in death, so much so that they trembled at the idea of his having a tomb,” he said.

Al-Zawahri — who referenced the toppling of rulers in Tunisia and Egypt and continued uprisings in Libya, Yemen and Syria — tried to cast recent developments as in line with his group’s longtime goal: to destroy America and its allies. He said America now faces the international Muslim community.

“Our brothers who are working in Islam in all places, I tell you that our hands are extended to you and our hearts are open to you, so that we can work together to make Allah’s word the highest and to make Islamic law in Muslim lands the ruler, not the ruled,” he said in a video released on militant websites.

Al-Qaida has long sought to overthrow many of the Arab leaders whose regimes have been shaken or toppled by popular uprisings this year, though militant Islam has played next to no role in any of them and most activists say they seek civil rule, not religious rule.

Within days of the bin Laden raid, al-Qaida issued a statement vowing to keep fighting the United States, a message that was likely designed to convince followers that the organization would remain vigorous and intact even after its founder’s demise.

But al-Zawahri’s eulogy was the first comment by one of bin Laden’s potential successors on his killing.

He also said U.S. officials withheld the release of photographs of bin Laden’s body, fearing the “Islamic people’s anger and hate” for America.

Al-Zawahri, who is Egyptian, is a less charismatic figure believed to lack bin Laden’s ability to bring together the many nationalities and ethnic groups that make up al-Qaida. His appointment as the next al-Qaida leader could further fracture the group.