With al-Qaeda's loss of its key asset OBL, a gaping (arguably prominent beard-shaped hole) is left for the filling. The position of Chief and head of the famous global terror outfit, will make for tough boots to fill given OBL's track record and noteriety. Under OBL's watch, this organisation has pulled off sensational terror operations and campaigns with world-resonating 'success' . The man for the job has to re-invigorate an organisation that was flagging with the debilitation of the core elite group in Pakistan, as well as maintain, if not step up, the global war of Jihad. During the years of the intense man-hunt his role had evolved from operational into more of an ideological propoganda remit, feeding to the wider franchise AQ posts and the Jihadist movement from Africa to Iran, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula.
The job spec can be summed up as including these key features:
Must have willingness to take innocent human life en masse, for the cause of Jihad; must be inflamed with hatred of all things American and West and the agents thereof; must be a charismatic yet low profile type who keeps private. Must enjoy nature and the outdoors in preference to new technologies and telecommunications. Must be able to give up former luxuries (or indeed household regular appliances as fridge or air-con) for the simpler life, reminiscient of pre-Industrial times and in keeping with the Prophet's days. Have a gravitas fit for making pre-recorded televised addresses to the forsworn enemy, lending a victorious face to the struggle.
The more 'wanted' the better- this feature will give candidates an edge: a price-tag might lend even more appeal to hopefuls' bids. In this line-up that Al-Bawaba brings you, most aspiring members of the AQ team seeking to climb the ranks, are already 'wanted' by the U.S. counterterror operatives and come with a nice reward sum.
OBL's charisma and his way of recruiting mixed nationalities and consolidating a global cause, are being cited as features it will be hard to replace. Sons of the late OBL, as the younger Hamzeh, were for a while likely heirs: but with the few sons who had joined the family business now confirmed dead, the blood lineage is not an option and the Bin Ladens are out of the 'water' for replacement to their late Father.
While the AQ brigade is already promising to avenge their leader's execution- "American’s happiness will turn to sadness"- and carry on its record of being a curse to the West, it has downplayed the loss as something OBL will have made contingency plans for – and al Qaeda is more than an individual but a cause and ideology that lives on.
To be fair, it's not like they couldn't see this coming- following the most high profile man-hunts- and would have to have had contingency plans in place. While as leader he was synonymous with the organisation he founded and fronted, "Sheik Osama didn't build an organization to die when he dies."
Here a list of contendors: Names have been left out if they lack a good file and rank in the organisation, in spite of charisma they might have ammassed along the way. Abu Yahya al Libi is one such case, a Libyan theological scholar who once tried to bring down Gaddafi. Al Bawaba brings you the ultimate line-up of potential AQ leaders, and a flavor of their CVs.