When Osama bin Laden’s death was announced in May, Americans were relieved that the al-Qaeda leader had been removed from his long-time position. Others felt that he had finally been brought to justice after murdering nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001. Unfortunately, many tend to forget that al-Qaeda is comprised of many eager members willing to replace his position.
After ten years of hiding, al-Qaeda announced on Thursday that Egyptian-born Ayman al-Zawahiri has succeeded bin Laden’s position as the new leader of the terror group. The announcement was strategically planned in order to increase the publicity the group has lost since the 2011 Arab uprisings.
Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri (L)
Al-Zawahiri is a physician and founding member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), a militant organization that sought to overthrow the Mubarak government. He was bin Laden’s second-in-command for years, contributing radical ideas to the group’s ideology. Al-Zawahiri is responsible for orchestrating the bombings in Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005, the September 11 attacks, and several other deadly operations in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Pakistan, and North Africa. He has played a major role in rebuilding al-Qaeda’s leadership on the Afghan-Pakistan border.
Since his master’s death, the Egyptian terrorist has vowed to continue to pursue al-Qaeda’s campaign against the United States and it’s allies. In 2001, he wrote a treatise stating, “Pursuing the Americans and Jews is not an impossible task…Killing them is not impossible, whether by a bullet, a knife stab, a bomb or a strike with an iron bar.” He contains the deepest hate for Americans, since the U.S. killed his wife and children in an airstrike following the September 11 attacks in Afghanistan. His whereabouts are unknown.
Al-Qaeda will remain a force as long as people continue to believe in its ideology. Without supporters, al-Qaeda would diminish as many other terrorist groups have in the past. Although Osama bin Laden was removed, al-Zawahiri is determined to exceed his leadership role as al-Qaeda’s new mastermind and the group will continue to recruit members. The terror organization has also shown its support for the Arab Spring and will likely seek to capitalize on the destabilization that has come with it. Indeed, the War on Terror does not appear to be diminishing any time soon and will remain a battle for generations to come.