The name Al-Qaeda translates to the list or the roster; think of them as investment bankers who also operate a temporary employment service. Al-Qaeda receives a sales pitch from a terrorist group and decides if they wish to invest in the operation. If Al-Qaeda accepts the plan presented to them they provide money and expert personnel.
Al-Qaeda has never been an army or a military unit, they are the idea and money part of Islamic terrorism, not a large military force that can take and hold ground. Groups adopt the name Al-Qaeda but are not sanctioned by Al-Qaeda which has not franchised the terrorist business.
Osama Bin laden is dead and currently fish food and that is a very good thing; however, he never ran the firm called Al-Qaeda. The CEO of the organization is a 65-year-old Egyptian medical doctor and stone cold terrorist leader called Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Zawahiri is as intelligent (some reports refer to his genius IQ) as he is dedicated to the Islamic radical movement. He comes from a prominent, wealthy family of intellectuals and doctors in Egypt. He has been arrested and imprisoned in Russia and Egypt, and sentenced to death in absentia for masterminding the murder of 63 tourists in Egypt. He fought with the Islamic Jihad against the Russians in Afghanistan and is a deity to radical Islamists.
Not an imposing figure to look at, Ayman al-Zawahiri appears to be an elderly grandfather figure, with a white beard and head of gray hair. Osama Bin Laden made a more photogenic villain, so we focused on him.
Let’s not forget that Al-Qaeda is a small group of puppet masters who have no set location and do not need one; it can operate from any location in any place in the world and has a very small footprint. A large number of radical Islamists view Al-Qaeda as the” Sword of Allah” and follow their commands to the death.
Ayman al-Zawahiri’s involvement in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat 6 October 1981 is hotly debated in the terrorism counteraction community, but his arrest and imprisonment gave him a worldwide forum to present his vision of an Islamic world under strict Islamic law.
History will say the assassination of Anwar Sadat was the spark that lit the fuse of the terrorist war on the non-Islamic world. Prior to Sadat’s assassination terrorism, especially non-State sponsored terrorism, was sporadic and disjointed. It was al-Zawahiri’s rants from prison, in print and on video that planted the seed of hate in the minds of a generation of Muslims and gave birth to the terrorist independent contractor, an organization much more difficult to infiltrate and attack than state-sponsored terrorism.
The non-Islamic world will spend decades extinguishing the fires al-Zawahiri started; we should and must fight armed terrorist forces to protect innocent lives and deny radicals a base of operation. However, in the end, it will not be the force of arms that removes the cancer of radical Islamic terrorism, it will be Islam itself stepping into the 21st century.
Islam must accept the reality that all the other of the world’s great religions have accepted, that religions must adapt to changing times or perish. The period of history when religion can be spread by the sword ended in the 17th century.
The American government needs to pursue al-Zawahiri even harder than we did Bin-Laden because he is many times more dangerous. We need to eliminate this evil genus in a very low key, quiet manner, erasing him from the pages of history and not leaving him a martyr. Zawahiri’s demise, however (if and when it happens), will be a front page news story for partisan domestic political reasons and will extend this war, giving radical Islamist a holy martyr.
Radical Islam needs a central command and control element (C2) to coordinate operations and to act as a mediator between radical groups. C2 is needed to prioritize funding and personnel assets; traditionally Islamic groups have expended as many assets fighting each other as they have attacking infidels.
Though no reference is made in the news to al-Zawahiri, you can be sure his genius for organizing hate, suffering and death is behind jihadist operations worldwide.