Al-Qaeda replaces lost leaders with ease
The death of Al-Qaeda’s third-ranking leader in a drone strike was portrayed by US officials as a severe setback to the terrorist organiation.world Updated: Jun 02, 2010 23:52 IST
The death of Al-Qaeda’s third-ranking leader in a drone strike was portrayed by US officials as a severe setback to the terrorist organiation.
But if history is any guide, the network will have no problem replacing him.
On at least 10 occasions in the past decade, Al-Qaeda has sustained the loss of a senior operative described at some point as the No. 3 figure in its hierarchy.
Each time, the group has moved quickly to appoint a successor, demonstrating a resilience that has enabled it to survive a dozen years of open warfare with the US and defy repeated predictions of its demise.
Al-Qaeda, it seems, has gotten used to filling the number 3 spot, an especially high-risk job that involves overseeing terrorism plots, recruiting, raising money and providing internal security.
“They know they’re going to be hit and they’ve planned somehow for it,”said Barbara Sude, a former Al-Qaeda analyst at the CIA who now works as a political scientist at the Rand Corp. “We just don’t know what the bench is, or how deep.”
The latest man to fill the job, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, a 54-year-old Egyptian, perished in a May 21 missile strike in North Waziristan, the Pakistani tribal area where many Al-Qaeda leaders have taken refuge.