Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Temp agency sends over new Al-Qaeda leader

Saif al-Adel is a name which, for good or bad will be written in history books as the first Egyptian to head Al-Qaeda.  Ayman al-Zawahiri is the de-facto replacement head for bin-Laden but there is yet to be a consensus among the Ulema, so al-Adel will sit as a temp until all can agree whether he stays or goes.

From CNN May 17 by Peter Bergen

Egyptian Saif al-Adel now acting leader of al Qaeda, ex-militant says  

(CNN) -- An Egyptian who was once a Special Forces officer has been chosen "caretaker" leader of al Qaeda in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, according to a source with detailed knowledge of the group's inner workings.

Al Qaeda's interim leader is Saif al-Adel, who has long played a prominent role in the group, according to Noman Benotman. Benotman has known the al Qaeda leadership for more than two decades. He was once a leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a militant organization that used to be aligned with al Qaeda, but in recent years renounced al Qaeda's ideology.

Benotman told CNN that based on his personal communications with militants and
discussions on jihadist forums, al-Adel, also known as Muhamad Ibrahim Makkawi, had been chosen interim chief of al Qaeda because the global jihadist community had grown restive in recent days about the lack of a formal announcement of a successor to bin Laden.

According to Benotman, this was not a decision of the formal shura council of al Qaeda, because it is currently impossible to gather them in one place, but was rather the decision of six to eight leaders of al Qaeda in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area. Al-Adel was already one of the top leaders of the group.

However, Benotman said, the choice of an Egyptian may not sit well with some Saudi and Yemeni members of al Qaeda, who believe bin Laden's successor should come from the Arabian Peninsula, a region that is holy to all Muslims. Bin Laden was from a wealthy Saudi family.

The presumed successor to bin Laden is his long-time deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is also Egyptian. Benotman, who has long been a reliable source of information about al Qaeda, said the temporary appointment of al-Adel may be a way for the leadership to gauge reaction to the selection of someone from beyond the Arabian Peninsula as the group's leader.

Al-Adel fought the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980s. After the fall of the Taliban in the winter of 2001 he fled to Iran. According to senior Saudi counterterrorism officials, from there al-Adel authorized al Qaeda's branch in Saudi Arabia to begin a campaign of terrorist attacks in the Saudi kingdom that began in Riyadh in May 2003, a campaign that killed scores.

Some reports in the past year have suggested that al-Adel had left Iran for Pakistan.
Pakistan announces key al Qaeda arrest

One of the key issues that al-Adel has to reckon with now is the fallout from the large quantities of sensitive information that was recovered by U.S. forces at the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where bin Laden was shot on May 2. That information is likely to prove damaging to al Qaeda operations.

The selection of an interim leader allows al Qaeda to begin the process of collecting allegiance, or baya, from al-Qaeda affiliates such as the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the North Africa-based al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Baya was a religious oath of allegiance to bin Laden rather than to the organization itself, in the same way that Nazi Party members swore an oath of fealty to Hitler rather than to Nazism. That baya must now be transferred to whomever the new leader of al Qaeda is going to be, which is likely to be al-Zawahiri, given his long role as bin Laden's deputy.

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