Vacancy for Qaeda Chief; candidate line-up for successors.

Published May 5th, 2011 - 15:51 GMT

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Ayman Al-Zawahiri: 'Doctor', Deputy to OBL, Commander of the Core, and much touted heir to the AQ throne- though he is known to already have headed up the operations and effectively ran the show under the 'figurehead' OBL. Grandson of Al Azhar Iman adds gravitas; Mastermind of 9/11, $25 m pricetag.
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Image 1 of 7: Ayman Al-Zawahiri: 'Doctor', Deputy to OBL, Commander of the Core, and much touted heir to the AQ throne- though he is known to already have headed up the operations and effectively ran the show under the 'figurehead' OBL. Grandson of Al Azhar Iman adds gravitas; Mastermind of 9/11, $25 m pricetag.

Jassem Sulaiman Abu Ghaith: Senior leader and official spokesperson at AQ, Kuwaity, now in Iran. Teacher in Islamic Studies, Fought in Bosnia against the Serbs and is a fan of 9/11 repeat stunts.
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Image 1 of 7: Jassem Sulaiman Abu Ghaith: Senior leader and official spokesperson at AQ, Kuwaity, now in Iran. Teacher in Islamic Studies, Fought in Bosnia against the Serbs and is a fan of 9/11 repeat stunts.

Saif Al-Adel: Egyptian, with the Iran crew until he joined the Pakistan squad, 3rd in command of AQ, Credentials: embassy attacks in Africa '98; head of the military wing, he trained people in Somalia in explosives. Might have opposed 9/11 but he’s wanted nontheless for a healthy sum of $5 ml.
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Image 1 of 7: Saif Al-Adel: Egyptian, with the Iran crew until he joined the Pakistan squad, 3rd in command of AQ, Credentials: embassy attacks in Africa '98; head of the military wing, he trained people in Somalia in explosives. Might have opposed 9/11 but he’s wanted nontheless for a healthy sum of $5 ml.

Adam Yahiye Gadahn: American citizen convert to Islam age 32, and prolific on the internet in Arabic and English calling for jihad against the Americans, wanted by Washington, especially for high treason as an American with his involvement in 'terrorist acts' with AQ, comes with a reward of $1 ml
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Image 1 of 7: Adam Yahiye Gadahn: American citizen convert to Islam age 32, and prolific on the internet in Arabic and English calling for jihad against the Americans, wanted by Washington, especially for high treason as an American with his involvement in "terrorist acts" with AQ, comes with a reward of $1 ml

Anwar al Awlaki: AQAP operative, he holds a record of opportunistic strikes. A Muslim American cleric extremist, but not an official member of AQ. He calls for Jihad on the internet and the US classes him as a dangerous man and wants to eliminate him at all costs. Should boost his application.
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Image 1 of 7: Anwar al Awlaki: AQAP operative, he holds a record of opportunistic strikes. A Muslim American cleric extremist, but not an official member of AQ. He calls for Jihad on the internet and the US classes him as a dangerous man and wants to eliminate him at all costs. Should boost his application.

Fahad Mohammed Ahmed: Member of AQAP at Yemen, accused of involvement in the attack in 2000 on the American destroyer 'USS Cole' in Yemen, which killed 17 people, members of the U.S. Navy. Was arrested in Yemen and was imprisoned from 2002 until 2007. A known and wanted AQ operative.
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Image 1 of 7: Fahad Mohammed Ahmed: Member of AQAP at Yemen, accused of involvement in the attack in 2000 on the American destroyer "USS Cole" in Yemen, which killed 17 people, members of the U.S. Navy. Was arrested in Yemen and was imprisoned from 2002 until 2007. A known and wanted AQ operative.

Fazul Abdullah Mohammed: Mid-30s, East Africa leader- young and has the 'Wanted' by US kudos to bulk up his chances. (charged with the embassy bombings in Somalia '98).
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Image 1 of 7: Fazul Abdullah Mohammed: Mid-30s, East Africa leader- young and has the 'Wanted' by US kudos to bulk up his chances. (charged with the embassy bombings in Somalia '98).

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. 

 

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