AQ announces Zawahiri as its new target-in-chief

posted at 11:25 am on June 16, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

At al-Qaeda, everything old is new again.  Six weeks after the US brought justice to Osama bin Laden, the terrorist network finally got around to naming his replacement — and it’s the former Number Two, Ayman al-Zawahiri.  While that hardly comes as a surprise, the delay has analysts wondering if the decision could split the network:

Al Qaeda has named a former deputy to Osama bin Laden as its new terror leader following bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs in May, the organization announced on a jihadi website overnight.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian-born doctor who turns 60 on Sunday, was identified in the statement as the group’s new emir in a “new era” for al Qaeda — the group he helped found with bin Laden. …

Al-Zawahiri was long believed to be a leading contender to take over al Qaeda, though it took the organization more than a month to announce the transition. Noman Benotman, a former al Qaeda member and close associate of al-Zawahiri’s in the 1990s, told ABC News the delay is a sign there were likely disputes within al Qaeda over al-Zawahiri’s leadership.

Well, nothing says “new era” like the same-old, same-old — but the network probably had little choice.  Had Zawahiri not gotten the nod, it would have likely produced an even bigger split.  The Egyptian contingent in AQ has been a key element to its growth and its deadliness.  Zawahiri brought that into AQ, and had he been rejected for the top spot, he may have taken it with him on the way out.

However, Zawahiri’s ascension brings its own problems.  He’s notoriously Egypt-centric, which will have other factions struggling for any power in the network.  ABC’s source within US intelligence questions whether he can maintain loyalty with other groups outside of the small circle of Egyptians, while at the same time “decontaminating” AQ in the region for their indiscriminate killing of fellow Muslims.

Their refusal to take part in the so-called Arab Spring might have other Arabs and perhaps even Egyptians angry and distant from AQ, former AQ member Noman Benotman told ABC News, but it’s more likely that the Arabs of the region see AQ as irrelevant.  Events have passed AQ and Zawahiri by, and Arabs want to take control of their own destinies, not blow themselves up for a new Caliphate that would be every bit as dictatorial as the regimes they want to overthrow.  Instead of staying in Egypt and fighting with the Muslim Brotherhood for the end to the Mubarak regime, Zawahiri left to fight other battles and now has little claim on the movement in his home country regardless of what direction it takes.

ABC also has a new report on the threat from Yemen that bin Laden was attempting to harness in his final days.  It gives a little more context for current American activity in the chaotic underbelly of the Arabian peninsula, but also prompts the question of whether Zawahiri would have any chance of succeeding where bin Laden with his Yemeni ties seemingly failed:

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Comments

Meet the new (bloodthirsty) boss!

Same as the old (bloodthirsty) boss!

pilamaye on June 16, 2011 at 11:28 AM

Hey! A job was created under the obama admin!

WhatsRight on June 16, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Nice play by the AQ underlings…”Here, hit this guy”

Limerick on June 16, 2011 at 11:31 AM

al-Zawahiri is Musharraf’s house guest.

Roy Rogers on June 16, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Paging SEAL Team, Paging SEAL Team you are wanted in the operations room. Please bring your weapons.

Oil Can on June 16, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Maybe a SEAL will put a bullet through that knot on his forehead.

txsurveyor on June 16, 2011 at 11:36 AM

who turns 60 on Sunday,

I hope we have a special gift for him, he ahould get a big bang out of it.

fourdeucer on June 16, 2011 at 11:37 AM

great, lets kill him too and the rest of Al-Qaeda and their allies ASAP

jp on June 16, 2011 at 11:39 AM

Hello, Paradise? You’d better round up some virgins.

RebeccaH on June 16, 2011 at 11:39 AM

The great thing about Zawahiri is that he already has a target painted on his forehead.

Bishop on June 16, 2011 at 11:43 AM

(As the Predator Drone flies stealthily overhead…)

Zawahiri’s last words…

“Anyone else hear that?”

Seven Percent Solution on June 16, 2011 at 11:49 AM

My sources tell me there is a fierce power struggle for AQ leadership. Dr.Z’s rival decided the best way to get him out of his way was to publicly name the Doc as the new boss!

/s

cartooner on June 16, 2011 at 11:51 AM

We may have a harder time killing this guy. They probably won’t do the “hiding in plain sight” trick again. That weasel probably does live in some out of the way hole.

BillCarson on June 16, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Brain surgeon.

/

Physician, heal thyself.

/

If only “No prophet is accepted in his own country.”

maverick muse on June 16, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Did he get a pay raise?

Pablo Honey on June 16, 2011 at 11:54 AM

Arabs want to take control of their own destinies, not blow themselves up for a new Caliphate that would be every bit as dictatorial as the regimes they want to overthrow.

News to me.

OhioCoastie on June 16, 2011 at 11:54 AM

Could we please not have used a troll bait -photo shop for the pic link?

abobo on June 16, 2011 at 11:56 AM

I would love to see this guy get a drone up his azz.

Blake on June 16, 2011 at 11:58 AM

He shouldn’t be too hard to find and eliminate. Just go to the house on the opposite side of the military barracks from the compound where Bin Laden was living in Pakistan and knock. I’d start there first.

FlatFoot on June 16, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Hope. Change. Yes we can.

Professor Blather on June 16, 2011 at 12:01 PM

“Only two shall there be, a master and an apprentice: one to embody power and the other to crave it.”

I wonder who Darth Zawahiri will choose as his new apprentice…

moc23 on June 16, 2011 at 12:02 PM

Aim for the spot in the middle of his forehead.

Ward Cleaver on June 16, 2011 at 12:05 PM

We need to develop a zabiba-seeking missile.

slickwillie2001 on June 16, 2011 at 12:14 PM

Aim for the spot in the middle of his forehead.

Ward Cleaver on June 16, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Damn, you beat me to it! I was going to say how nice it was of Zowi to have a built in target on his forehead for one of our snipers!

Can’t wait until this jackwagon is swimmin’ with the fishes like his old butt-buddy OBL is! Scum!

Liberty or Death on June 16, 2011 at 12:14 PM

IF AQ wants to heal any split caused by this man’s leadership, I bet they will out him to the CIA with in the next year or so.

How long will he live? I give somewhere between 11 to 12 months before we find him.

Conservative Samizdat on June 16, 2011 at 12:19 PM

The Egyptian contingent in AQ has been a key element to its growth and its deadliness.

Not sure about that. Having an Egyptian at the top might be a nod to cultural heart of the Arab world and an attempt to recruit but Dr Z will not be able to motivate and inspire the way Osama did. Osama was a very good speaker and Dr Z simply isn’t. He actually sounds a little funny in Arabic.

Let’s hope he meets his end soon.

lexhamfox on June 16, 2011 at 12:20 PM

So in which government-owned palace in Pakistan will his inauguration celebrations be held???

albill on June 16, 2011 at 12:23 PM

I hope Muslims are getting tired of that ridiculous ideology that has gotten them no where and has basically caused them to be left behind in this modern world. Maybe they are getting tired of their sons having no future or getting killed in pursuit of a goal not accomplished in 7000 years…

CCRWM on June 16, 2011 at 12:38 PM

Maybe he can do everyone a favor and get a target reticle tatooed on his forehead.

44Magnum on June 16, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Excellent/perfect thread title!

Schadenfreude on June 16, 2011 at 12:43 PM

I’m getting so sick and tired of these brainwashed moron muslim murderers raising hell everywhere and killing everyone they can. You would think it would start getting a little old to that crowd after a while. I mean, what is it you win afterall? Spin the clock back 700 years? Fix the world and make it a better place? Do these people lack the vision and intellect to see the end game they seek is not only a looser but a big downer as well?

Even the mainstreet man-on-the-street muslems are waking up to that. I am ready for this too to pass. It is a sorry fad. The desired wholesale murder of women and children as a favorite policy is never positive. Wake up.

saiga on June 16, 2011 at 1:01 PM

We may have a harder time killing this guy. They probably won’t do the “hiding in plain sight” trick again. That weasel probably does live in some out of the way hole.

BillCarson on June 16, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Ha ha yeah, bin Laden probably told him that he was living in cave and the Doc believed him and stayed in one to be like the boss. Chump.

Big John on June 16, 2011 at 1:30 PM