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Al-Qaeda 'Shadow Of Former Self' Decade After Bin Laden Death

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France 24

Al-Qaeda 'Shadow Of Former Self' Decade After Bin Laden Death

Paris (AFP)

Ten years after the killing of its founder Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda bears little resemblance to the terror network that struck the US on September 11, 2001, but remains a threat even under a starkly different leadership structure.

After his killing in Pakistan by US special forces, Bin Laden was succeeded as Al-Qaeda's chief by the Egyptian jihadist Ayman al-Zawahiri, an ideologue who has cut a far less charismatic presence.

Zawahiri has had to lie very low, most likely around the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, amid speculation over whether he is still even alive, while the group has now mutated into something very different.

"AQ central is a shadow of its former self," Barak Mendelsohn, a terrorism expert at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, told AFP. "Zawahiri's biggest success was to keep Al-Qaeda alive."

Mendelsohn said that rather than being a coherent decision-making centre, Al-Qaeda's leadership is now more akin to a "board of advisors" rallying and assisting jihadists across the world.

Zawahiri, 69, has seen Al-Qaeda essentially franchise out its operations from the Maghreb to Somalia to Afghanistan, as well as in Syria and Iraq.

"Under Zawahiri's stewardship, Al-Qaeda has become increasingly decentralised, with authority resting primarily in the hands of Al-Qaeda's affiliate leaders," according to a recent report from the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) think-tank.

 

Full story https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210428-al-qaeda-shadow-of-former-self-decade-after-bin-laden-death