Three of Al Qaeda’s franchises in Syria, Yemen and the Maghreb issued a joint eulogy. They praised Mullah Omar for refusing to surrender bin Laden to America after 9/11. It was a dramatic illustration that the Al Qaeda network is still a united global jihad.
But not a word from Zawahri. A blank slate. No statement for his deputy’s death or his titular leader. His organization is still active in Pakistan. Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, the group Zawahri lauded last September in the last message he made, is actively plotting attacks. Pakistani security officials recently killed one of its commanders in Baluchistan. Other senior Al Qaeda operatives have also been killed in Pakistan recently.
So what accounts for the silence? Why is Zawahri missing in action? Of course, only he and his closest circle know for sure.
Perhaps Zawahri is ill and his health precludes any public role. Like Mullah Omar, he may be incapable of activity or even dead. But there is no hint of that in the jihadi websites or chatter.