Who will be next al-Qaeda top dog?

2011-05-11 09:22

Baghdad - A week after the death of Osama bin Laden, his longtime deputy is considered the front-runner to succeed the iconic al-Qaeda founder.

But uprisings in the Middle East and changing dynamics within the group could point to another scenario: a decision not to appoint anyone to replace the world's most-wanted terrorist.

Replacing bin Laden, who founded al-Qaeda more than two decades ago and masterminded 9/11, may be no easy task. Analysts say the choice will likely depend on how the terror organisation views its goals and priorities in the post-bin Laden age.

The revolt across the Arab world over the past few months was driven by aspirations for democracy, not the al-Qaeda goal of a religiously-led state spanning the Muslim world.

And as al-Qaeda struggles to prove its relevance, the group has become increasingly decentralised and prone to internal disputes.

Possible successor

Whether al-Qaeda "even need name an 'official' new leader is uncertain", wrote Rita Katz and Josh Devon in a report by SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist web traffic.

"So long as the group can continue to issue messages ... the group will remain a guiding light for the global jihadist community."

If al-Qaeda does pick a successor, Sawyer and other analysts said Ayman al-Zawahri, 59, is the most likely choice because he was bin Laden's longtime deputy and has far more experience than younger candidates.

Few may want to challenge him openly for the top spot, analysts said.

"If he is passed over for someone else, it tells me that al-Qaeda has already splintered," said Fawaz Gerges, an al-Qaeda scholar at the London School of Economics.

One possible challenger is Abu Yahia al-Libi, a Libyan who serves as al-Qaeda's Afghanistan commander. Al-Libi, an Islamic scholar, escaped from the US's Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in 2005 and began appearing in videos released by the terror group.

Another possibility is Saif al-Adel, an Egyptian who was indicted by the US for his role in the August 7 1998 bombings of US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya that killed 224 people.

But his close ties with al-Zawahri and lack of religious credentials make him unlikely to lead the group.


If al-Zawahri is the successor, he will face sharp challenges in trying to make his severely debilitated organisation a force following the Arab spring and bin Laden's death in a US raid on his hideout in Pakistan.

In the popular revolts that broke out in Tunisia and spread throughout the Arab world, youthful protesters demanded democracy - a system of government despised by jihadis as against the laws of God - rather than a religiously based state as called for by al-Qaeda.

For the three-fifths of the Arab population that is under 30, the bombings on September 11 2001, are at best a childhood memory.

"Bin Laden became part of the past, just like the Arab regimes that have been toppled," said Khalil el-Anani, an expert on Islamic jihadi movements. "What a coincidence that the same year Arab authoritarian rulers collapse, bin Laden dies."

No ideological differences

Al-Zawahri is likely to try to reconnect to people outside al-Qaida's core group as a way to rebuild the organization, wrote Noman Benotman and James Brandon in a report by Quilliam, a British counterterrorism think tank.

Under al-Zawahri's leadership, many al-Qaeda analysts say there would be few immediate changes in al-Qaeda's operating principles.

Al-Zawahri and bin Laden had no ideological differences and both considered the US, known in jihadist circles as the "far enemy", as the most important target.

  • alessandroz067 - 2011-05-11 09:38

    Who ever usa wants it to be... give them a little time to make something up.

      kidblack - 2011-05-11 15:06

      newspeak. check. doublethink. check. thoughtcrime... hmmm... almost. just a few more gizmos and gadgets, then check mate.

      slg - 2011-05-12 00:09

      Sounds very much like you're disconnect from reality that you would think this is all made up by the US. That's a dangerous place to be.

      alessandroz067 - 2011-05-12 12:18

      slg... you're the one who's disconnected from reality dude. You obviously lack the ability to think. Sorry for you.

      slg - 2011-05-12 21:49

      You're saying that the US, a democracy with strong checks and balances and a rabid media, is making things up. That's the disconnection from reality.

      Matt - 2011-06-13 16:03

      @ slg - quick, before News24 deletes this again - read the communist . manifesto - see how democratic the USA, and indeed most democracies, are...

  • Gorilla - 2011-05-11 10:07

    I bet they are queuing up for this job...

      drowninja - 2011-05-11 12:32

      lol. I doubt any what the drone bomb up their head.

      IandI - 2011-05-11 13:55

      New reality TV show "Who wants to be terrorist", 1st price, trip to Tora Bora, pretend to live in a cave for 10 years. If you die/are killed ,72 vegans will be waiting for you in heaven, so pack plenty condoms and viagra.

      kidblack - 2011-05-11 15:18

      @landl : you mean pack plenty of flackseed oil and lentils?

  • JT4 - 2011-05-11 10:12

    Whoever the next in-line is, no doubt they too will be wiped out ... and then all the conspiracy theorists will ahve something else to occupy their little minds

      alessandroz067 - 2011-05-11 10:22

      i think it's way passed the "conspiracy theory" phase now. More and more people are opening their eyes and actualy thinking for themselves. If you're stuck in you own little bubble, i feel for you. When it pops, don't say we didn't warn you.

      sherwood - 2011-05-11 11:07

      JT may not have eyes Alessandroz...

      drowninja - 2011-05-11 12:34

      I agree with you alessandro, the jihadist were self serving in the 1st place, lookin at Bin Laden- not many Arabs can hope to live that rich!

      slg - 2011-05-12 00:11

      Regrettably Alessandro the bubble is yours. It's scary actually.

      slg - 2011-05-12 00:11

      Same thing Sherwood, you're looking into your own reflection. You're blinding yourself and not seeing what is really happening out there. Open them. :)

  • stukyster - 2011-05-11 10:30

    Calling it a "terror organisation" is subjective.

      Aren - 2011-05-11 10:37

      More likely a Neanderthal organisation who's ideologies have become obsolete given current affairs in the Arab world.

      drowninja - 2011-05-11 12:35

      Problem they may try not to be Obsolete then that will qualify them as terrorists

      slg - 2011-05-12 00:13

      It's not. They use terror to manipulate, dominate and control people to do what they want them to do. They take peoples' freedom away.

      Matt - 2011-06-13 16:05

      slg is right - the US Government would never in 1000 years have been able to pass the highly intrusive Patriot Act without something big like the Twin Towers falling - now you can have the FBI on your doorstep just because you told a friend you're reading a particular book that isn't too kind about the Government

  • Martin du Plessis - 2011-05-11 10:38

    I can see it now. The latest Reality TV show to sweep america by Storm! Joe_Qaeda! Follow the succession of the top terror organization from your own home. Vote for YOUR favourite candidate and stand a chance to win an all-expenses paid trip to Tropical Quantanamo Bay (no, not that one, we have another one thats a resort, no, really)!

      Grunk - 2011-05-11 10:47

      The stupid thing about it is that the US TV public would really believe what was being showed

      slg - 2011-05-12 00:14

      Like you know Grunk.

  • Montana - 2011-05-11 10:56

    Who is Al-Qaeda really? CIA operative possibly? Well at least Bin Laden did'nt leave a "hit list" at his house! If Al-Qaeda are so ancient and backward why do they use the internet so much, to discuss confidential matters. Do you know what a Jihadist is? Every muslim by religion must fight for Jihad when asked...there has never been a Jihad war and that would make every muslim a Jihadist.

      alessandroz067 - 2011-05-11 11:37

      Right on, usa seem to find certain Islamic words and just use them to suit different circumstances and create "organized chaos".

      drowninja - 2011-05-11 12:48

      @Montana, "Every muslim by religion must fight for Jihad when asked...there has never been a Jihad war and that would make every muslim a Jihadist." Will it apply if Most Arabs are going democratic? I mean that includes a personal choice.

      drowninja - 2011-05-11 12:49

      err. Take Arab = Muslim. and ALL = Most.

      Montana - 2011-05-11 13:09

      @drownninja ideally it should be all muslims/arabs (arabs are muslims from the middle east) but the choice is yours and if you are a muslim and you follow islam as you should then Jihad is a "no brainer" for you. Ultimately you have the freedom of choice! To understand this, google the meaning of Jihad.

      slg - 2011-05-12 01:10

      Alessandro, chaos is a precursor to all change, ALL change

      Paco7 - 2011-06-13 15:52

      Al-Qaeda is the boogeyman created by the US to frighten their citizens and their allies into thinking there is a threat from terrorists so that they can continue to kill muslims without any accountability for their actions

  • trunkbutt - 2011-05-11 11:15

    whoever the CIA/Mossad trains?

      slg - 2011-05-12 00:54

      That was in the 1980's when the Soviet Union was the greatest threat to humanity. It was for a short period of time and it has not relevance to today. Clearly Al-Quaeda made the wrong choice to go against the freer world and the natural evolution of human consciousness. Their days are numbered, unless they change.

      Matt - 2011-06-13 16:09

      "natural evolution of human consciousness" - if evolution were true, we've become a lot worse! BTW, if you know the 1980s... USA supported Apartheid-SA till about 1985, Reagan called Mandela a terrorist in 1985 - and backed SA in Angola (to fight communism) and then suddenly pulled out, leaving SA alone in the fight. Also, the USA gave Iraq and Iran arms during their war - also have a look at the nonsense in Nicaragua and Panama - was the USSR really "THE" biggest threat?

  • sherwood - 2011-05-11 11:44

    With all the many many questions from we Lay people concerning Osma's alleged death, Do you not wonder why the western media who supposed to be objective have no questions for the Politicians/soldiers statements & explanations of the alleged Killing??? They are Experts/Professionals BUT rather give one biased version according to the lies the US Politicians etc tell. Strange, very strange!

      drowninja - 2011-05-11 12:55

      tell us the lies Wiki-leaks?

      slg - 2011-05-12 00:55

      The lies are what you are telling yourself. It's obvious.

  • sherwood - 2011-05-11 11:56

    With all their resources, expertise etc they cannot raise the simple questions we ordinary people do. That's what journalist supposed to do, be objective, criticise lack of evidence, ask questions instead of digesting one side. We cannot consequently believe the western media's version of the assasination.

      drowninja - 2011-05-11 12:56

      lol. depends if the story sells Mr.

      slg - 2011-05-12 00:56

      The "Western media" is a huge and multifaceted thing. Parts of it are excellent.

      Matt - 2011-06-13 16:11

      Western media, like here in SA, is incredibly biased. I spent 21 years of my life in the West and I saw for myself how it reports with bias.

  • Montana - 2011-05-11 11:58

    Only time will tell what the Americans have really been up to. This is all formalities until the world establishes their true intentions but i have my suspicions. Wealth in the middle east? And they have the UN which is dominated by US rule which is their clean up crew when things get out of hand.

      slg - 2011-05-12 00:57

      The so-called Americans saved your ass when the Nazis were trying to take over the world, and again when the Soviets were doing it. They're going to save your ass again even if you don't know it.

  • sherwood - 2011-05-11 12:12

    Bottom Line: Politicians can Never be Trusted, Who out there Trusts any Politician, let us all know who that so how can we believe the media who publish those very lies???

      drowninja - 2011-05-11 13:05

      Those who vote for them do trust them :-P

      slg - 2011-05-12 00:58

      Like all blanket statements, this is inaccurate, unless you're a teenager, in which case blanket statements are important and necessary to get through those years. But it's important to know that it is a blanket statement that is somewhat true, but not entirely.

  • Jason - 2011-05-11 13:41

    Obviously this will be an endless cycle, until religion is done away with all together.

      alessandroz067 - 2011-05-11 13:55

      That's very clever Jason... Why didn't anyone else think of that one? Maybe becuase it's retarded.

      slg - 2011-05-12 00:59

      Hopefully religion is moving towards greater spirituality, real spirituality that it has largely lost.

      Paco7 - 2011-06-09 14:04

      dream on,loser

      Matt - 2011-06-13 16:13

      Yeah, and once religion is done away with, we can have wonderful humanist regimes like USSR, China, Nazi Germany, Cambodia, Cuba (till recently)...

  • G spot wizar - 2011-05-11 14:10

    Name him, we will kill him too.

      Montana - 2011-05-11 14:37

      You dont even know for sure why Osama was "killed" in the first place!!

      Matt - 2011-05-11 14:58

      Juliass... now please go kill him too :-)

      slg - 2011-05-12 01:00

      Montana, I'm clear why Osama was killed. So are many people, the vast majority of people in fact.

  • JT4 - 2011-05-11 14:34

    I reckon the US has known for quite sometime where OBL was hiding and when the environment changed (arab uprisings started) it became expedient to get rid of him ... should the next leader prove to interfere with the wave of 'democratisation' in the arab world, then maybe this fella will also get nailed

      slg - 2011-05-12 01:01

      The US moved immediately to kill Bin Laden once it discovered where he was hiding. The resonance of the awakening of the Middle East yielded this information.

  • Matt - 2011-05-11 14:41

    It won't be me, I don't have a turban and can't grow a beard for itchiness

      Matt - 2011-05-11 14:56

      Well whatever OBL was always wearing... I know some call it a turban

      Matt - 2011-05-11 14:57

      not referring to turbans which are commonly worn by Sikhs :-)

  • Jakob - 2011-05-12 00:13

    me me me!!!! please me!!!!

  • umlaut - 2011-05-12 10:57

    Ah! -more fish food---but the fish will get poisoned by all the lead in it. I think I will stop eating fish-just in case--you never know-uhggg-imagine eating fish that dined on AlQaeda dishes.

  • jowza - 2011-05-12 15:23

    i heard steve hofmeyer apllied for the job

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