Bin Laden’s former right arm resurfaced. Is it important?


News analysis

Recently released video Al-Qaeda leader Aiman ​​Zawahiri suggests that he may still be alive. Some national security experts downplayed this because of Zawahiri’s apparent lack of charisma and leadership skills, while others had al-Qaeda prospered and past under former Lieutenant Osama bin Laden. He pointed out that he had gained US support in 10 years.

After Bin Laden’s death in 2011, many celebrated this opportunity as a two-sided victory. Not only did the United States bring bin Laden to trial, but it also delivered al-Qaeda to the seemingly ineffective Zawahiri.

Rand Corporation Analysis Since September 11, 2001, US authorities have explained this idea, assuming that Zawahiri’s incompetence has lowered Zawahiri’s priority.

“Since the acquisition by Zawahiri in 2011, the US government has been relatively blaming al-Qaeda,” analysts Colin P. Clark and Asfandia Mir wrote in Rand last year. “Some terrorist analysts even claim that living Zawahiri did more harm to al-Qaeda than the dead.”

Similar sentiment was expressed following the September 11 release of a video featuring Zawahiri. This is a video to disprove. Last year’s report The death of the al-Qaeda chief.

“It must be a lot of money that the outdated recordings of Zawahiri have been seen and engaged by more jihad watchers than jihads and sympathizers,” said the journalist. Hassan I. Hassan, Who Reported inaccurately The death of Zawahill last November.

“Points from today’s release of al-Qaeda’s Arsahab: … Zawahiri is still deadly boring,” wrote Charles Lister, Senior Fellow of the Middle East Institute. “Beyond that, there’s not much to notice. AQC is around AQ worldwide.”

However, although Zawahiri appears to lack charisma, some still claim that he is an effective murderer with thousands of blood, including the 9/11 victims. increase. In Rand’s analysis last September, Clark and Mir found out how a 70-year-old Egyptian helped al-Qaeda survive the past decade when the United States focused on other groups like ISIS. I also explained about.

“For example, Zawahiri hates building a nation. It’s a stance that protected al-Qaeda and gave the group a relative rest when the Islamic State became a more direct target of US counterterrorism.” They wrote. “As the US strike against Islamic State intensified, the cohesion between al-Qaeda affiliates and their allies improved.”

The relatively unobtrusiveness of Zawahiri not only helped al-Qaeda avoid destruction. The United States has even helped so-called “moderate” Zawahiri supporters in Syria and Yemen.

In Syria, for example, the Obama administration has been pouring weapons into al-Qaeda’s affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra since 2012 in support of the failed attempt to expel the country’s president Bashar al-Assad.

This support made then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton think, “I know that al-Qaeda (Zawahiri) is supporting the Syrian opposition.”

“Are we supporting al-Qaeda in Syria?” Clinton told CBS News reporters in 2012.

Epoch Times Photo
At an anti-al-Shabaab rally in Mogadishu on February 23, 2014, Somali security soldiers pointed their weapons at a poster with a photo of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. (AbdifitahHashi Nor / AFP via Getty Images)

A 2015 article on foreign affairs, a publication of the Council on Foreign Relations, argued why the United States should support al-Qaeda.

“The post-Arab Revolutionary instability in the Middle East and the surge in Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Arsham require Washington to rethink its policies towards al-Qaeda, especially the targeting of Zawahiri.” An article titled “Accept Al Qaeda”.

“At this point, destabilizing al-Qaeda could, in fact, go against US efforts to defeat ISIS.”

However, Scott Horton, editorial director of, argues that support for Zawahiri’s supporters is unreasonable and contributes to the region’s continued instability.

“Many of these same things [Zawahiri loyalists] Helped Sunni-based rebels kill 4,000 of the 4,500 U.S. troops who died in the Iraq War, “Horton wrote in 2021” Enough: When to End the War on Terror. I wrote in.

And on the argument that al-Qaeda is preferable to ISIS, Houghton wrote, “Tell it to the survivors of the thousands of American civilian and military victims killed by these terrorists in the last three decades.” rice field.

Houghton points out that US support for al-Qaeda fighters continues to this day as the country sells weapons to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is arming Al Qaeda (AQAP) on the Arabian Peninsula in the ongoing Yemeni Civil War.

“In a very realistic sense, President Obama and President Trump [and now Biden] Houghton wrote, “already enough.” The US Army, Air Force, Navy, and special operations forces were once again involved in the war to serve al-Qaeda leader Aiman ​​Zawahiri.

Meanwhile, authorities are speculating where Zawahiri is now.

Security contractor George McMillan, who worked on intelligence and surveillance issues in Afghanistan, told the Epoch Times that Zawahiri is likely to be hiding in western Pakistan. This is an assessment shared by many national security experts. McMillan explained that Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI, has long provided jihadists with shelter to bring them to court as an ally to India.

“Zawahiri is probably still prominent in it,” McMillan said.

In recent weeks, Zawahiri may have slipped into Afghanistan in the wake of the withdrawal of the United States, according to former CIA deputy director Michael Morell.

“We think so, which means that the Taliban are housed Zawahiri today,” Morel said on Sunday in response to a question on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“The Taliban are housed al-Qaeda today, and I think that’s a very important point.”

Houghton said he believes it is dishonest to lament the Taliban’s tolerance for al-Qaeda veterans, even though US officials support Yemen’s supporters of Zawahiri.

“I don’t want to hear about’safe shelters’ [in Afghanistan] From those who support al-Qaeda terrorists in Yemen and Syria, “Houghton told The Epoch Times in a July interview.

The FBI has put Zawahiri on the most important nomination list since being charged with his role in the bombing of the US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya on August 7, 1998. Information that leads to anxiety for terrorist leaders.

The FBI declined to comment when contacted by the Epoch Times regarding the apparent reappearance of Zawahiri.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Ken Silva

Ken Silva covers the national security issues of The Epoch Times. His reporting career also includes cybersecurity, crime and offshore finance. This includes a three-year reporter in the British Virgin Islands and a two-year reporter in the Cayman Islands. Contact him at [email protected]