A while back, al-Qaeda named Saif al-Adel, a strategic commander with a background in the Egyptian military, as their interim leader. You may recall their previous leader, Osama bin Laden, a bitter old shut-in pornography addict who had his mind opened by the U.S. Navy SEALs.
Some intelligence experts wondered if Adel was meant as a trial balloon to see if al-Qaeda would accept an Egyptian leader, such as bin Laden’s longtime right-hand-man Ayman al-Zawahiri. It looks like that was the case, as the world’s premiere terror organization (at least, the only one that doesn’t have its own capitol, national anthem, and currency) has formally named Zawahiri as its new permanent leader.
Al-Qaeda is wise not to rely too long on interim leadership. It never works out well in the long term. Just look at how things are going over at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
It’s possible Zawahiri was using Adel to find out if al-Qaeda’s new leader would be instantly vaporized. As testified by the sad state of bin Laden during his latter days, these al-Qaeda bigwigs are miserable cowards. Zawahiri had good reason to lay low, while American intelligence experts went through the material they found mixed in with bin Laden’s porno tapes. He must be confident we don’t know exactly where he is.
It is widely thought Zawahiri is currently hiding in either a cave in Afghanistan, a tent in the Pakistani tribal areas, or a cozy three-story walkup near Islamabad. It may be tough to get a fix on him, since the Pakistani government has been rounding up all the fellows who helped the CIA bag bin Laden. Maybe the Pakistani secret police will celebrate Zawahiri’s elevation by sending him tapes of the interrogations.
Here’s a photo of Zawahir and bin Laden during their salad days. Ironically, bin Laden is the one who doesn’t look like he’s got a bullet hole in his forehead.
Zawahiri tried to rally the troops with a touching eulogy to his old friend bin Laden earlier this month, saying “Today, praise God, America is not facing an individual, a group or a faction. It is facing a nation that is in revolt, having risen from its lethargy to a renaissance of jihad.” No, he’s not talking about Pakistan. He means the “nation” of violent Islamic fascists, which stretches from the prison cells of America to, er, Pakistan.
Zawahiri is thought by some experts to be a more formidable opponent than bin Laden, because he handled a lot of the operational details of the organization. He’s supposedly smarter, but less likable and inspirational. He’s definitely got the bloodlust necessary to run a global terror network. The Associated Press quotes a 2001 treatise in which he described the strategy of jihad as inflicting “as many casualties as possible” on Americans and Jews, who can be killed with “a bullet, a knife stab, a bomb, or a strike with an iron bar.”
Sounds great! We’ll use Predator drones and special forces. Be sure to smile for the orbital cameras, Ayman, and have your iron bar handy when the SEALs drop by.