On Monday evening, the President of the United States, Joe BidenChief declared dead of Al-Qaeda. Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian, was killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan overnight from Saturday to Sunday. American. But what does the death of this historic jihadist mean for al-Qaeda? 20 minutes Takes the implications of eliminating this leader Jihadi.
Who is Ayman al-Zawahiri and why is his death so symbolic?
Ayman al-Zawahiri He was one of the most wanted terrorists in the world. The United States offered a reward of $25 million for any information leading to his discovery. He took over as al-Qaeda’s leader posthumously in 2011 Osama Bin Laden’sKilled by an American commando Pakistan. Untraceable for more than ten years, he is believed to be the mastermind of the attacks September 11It killed nearly 3,000 people in the United States.
“Zawahiri is more than a symbol of contemporary terrorism, he is one of the co-founders of international Islamic terrorism with bin Laden and a character that has come to represent the past thirty years. Terrorism “, emphasizes Mathieu Guidère. Expert and teacher in the fieldAtlas of Islamic Terrorism, He recalled that Ayman al-Zawahiri was a “historical figure of Islam”, having been on the jihadi scene for more than forty years.
Also, Ayman al-Zawahiri “knighted and gave the green light to almost all branches of al-Qaeda,” according to Mathieu Guidère. These branches, such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqmi) or al-Qaeda in Iraq, allow the terrorist organization to have local roots.
What does this mean for al-Qaeda and Islamic terrorism?
“It’s a blow to central al-Qaeda,” assures Mathieu Gaidare, recalling that it will be very difficult to find a “genuine” leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has served for forty years. Notably, bin Laden was killed in 2011 and became the organization’s No. 3 leader in 2020. “Al-Qaeda’s central command is virtually destroyed” and its leader’s death heralds “probably the end of the parent organization.”
“For the branches, there will be no direct influence, but they will no longer be coordinated, because he is the one who chose the overall strategy of the organization,” says the terrorism expert. Especially Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was a knight of these branches, had connections and power that a potential successor lacked. As a result, “they will probably focus on local and no longer global terrorism”, understands Mathieu Guidère.
Al-Qaeda now observes forty days of mourning before finding a successor, and generally, a terrorist leader “feels” his successor before his death, Mathieu Guider underlines. “By September, we should have a new name,” he adds. But whatever that name is, he certainly dwarfs the face of this historic leader who “targeted generations of terrorists.”
What are the consequences for the relationship between Washington and Kabul?
According to the Americans, Ayman al-Zawahiri lived in a three-story house in Sherpur, an affluent neighborhood in the center of the Afghan capital, where many villas are occupied by high-ranking Taliban officers and commanders. His existence Kabul is a “flagrant breach” of the agreements made in Doha In 2020, with the Taliban vowing not to welcome al-Qaeda on their soil, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken noted.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, for his part, accused the US of flouting these agreements by conducting strikes in their region. “These statements are expected in the game diplomacy “, emphasizes Mathieu Guidère. “Don’t do an operation like this without inside information. It requires months of information, and no one will warn the people on the spot and above all the target,” lists the terrorist expert. So it is possible The Taliban Abandoned al-Qaeda as expressly requested Washington. “They try to avoid confrontation with the West, especially the Americans, and become moderates in the face of the Islamic State, which is launching attacks against them,” explains the author-researcher.
Because in this region, as in many others, Al-Qaeda has gradually given way to IS, which is establishing itself as the “true banner of terrorism” in the country. And if the removal of al-Qaeda’s number one is a real victory for the US seeking to punish 9/11, it creates a vacuum. However, “terrorism hates a vacuum: when you weaken one system, you mechanically contribute to strengthening another,” Mathieu Guidère underlines.
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