CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ Al-Qaida in Iraq said in a Web statement posted Monday that a militant named Abu Hamza al-Muhajer was the group's new leader.

Al-Muhajer succeeds Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed Wednesday by a U.S. airstrike on his hideout northeast of Baghdad, Iraq.

The purported successor was not immediately known. The name al-Muhajer, Arabic for ``immigrant,'' suggested he was not Iraqi.

``Al-Qaida in Iraq's council has agreed on Sheik Abu Hamza al-Muhajer to be the successor for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in the leadership of the organization,'' said a statement signed by the group on an Islamic militant Web forum where it often posts messages.

It said al-Muhajer was ``a beloved brother with jihadi (holy war) experience and a strong footing in knowledge.''

The authenticity of the statement could not be independently confirmed.