Ayman al-Zawahiri, the emir of Al Qaeda since 2011, has not spoken publicly since last September. This eight-month gap is his longest absence from the public stage since the fall of Kabul in 2001. It is likely he is biding his time for a special purpose but his motive is elusive.
The 63-year-old Egyptian has been a jihadist fighter and plotter since 1981 when he was part of the conspiracy that assassinated Anwar Sadat. Born into the upper elite of Cairo society, Zawahiri turned to jihad out of a deep hatred of Israel and America’s support for Israel. He has been a brutally tortured prisoner, a fugitive for decades wanted by dozens of intelligence services, and a prolific writer of books about the global jihad. Zawahiri has been a constant on Al Qaeda’s Al Sahab
propaganda medium for a dozen years with scores of taped messages.
On September 4, 2014, Zawahiri announced the formation of a new Al Qaeda branch in the Indian subcontinent. He said it had been in development for years and would seek to intensify jihadist activity in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, and the Maldives. He promised this group would restore Islamic rule in South Asia like it was during the Mughal Empire.
Within days the new group took credit for an attempt to hijack PNS Zulfiqar, a Chinese-built Pakistani Navy frigate equipped with ship-to-ship missiles, from a naval base that houses nuclear weapons in Karachi. The plot was spearheaded by Al Qaeda-recruited Pakistani navy personnel. The goal was to use the hijacked Zulfiqar to attack U.S. Navy and allied ships in the Arabian Sea, but it was foiled before the ship left Karachi harbor. Al Qaeda had wanted to attack an American aircraft carrier, its most audacious plot since 2006 when it conspired to simultaneously blow up a half-dozen jumbo jets over the Atlantic en route to Canada and the United States from London. If the Zulfiqar plot had succeeded it might have provoked war between America and Pakistan. It was an attack intended to change history like 9/11.
Since then the new Al Qaeda group has taken credit for a wave of assassinations of secular opponents of jihadism in South Asia. As Zawahiri promised last September, Bangladesh has been a major target for these attacks.
But Zawahiri himself has been uncharacteristically silent. He did not comment when Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) took credit for the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January, an attack AQAP said Zawahiri had ordered. Zawahiri had been calling for an attack in France for a decade so his silence is all the more notable. It was a triumph but the emir said nothing.
Nor has the emir commented on developments like the wars in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen; the succession in Saudi Arabia; or jihadi attacks in Australia, Canada, and elsewhere. In the past such events routinely got detailed commentary from Zawahiri.
Nor has he eulogized Al Qaeda’s recent martyrs. The drone mission that inadvertently killed an American and an Italian hostage in Pakistan last January also killed Ahmad Farouq who was the second in command of the Al Qaeda Indian subcontinent branch. Farouq was in charge of operations in Pakistan and presumably behind the Zulfiqar plot. Zawahiri would usually have issued his own eulogy for a martyr of this stature. Nor has he praised the years of jihadi service of the AQAP leader Nasr bin Ali al-`Ansi who issued the claim for the “Blessed Battle of Paris” when a drone strike killed him in Yemen this month.
Zawahiri is almost certainly not a martyr himself. Al Qaeda has never failed to announce the death of its leaders since it takes great pride in their martyrdom. Al Qaeda has already named Zawahiri’s heir, AQAP leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi, so there is no succession issue. So what explains his silence?
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Why hasn’t the successful and accomplished bloodhound, Obama who, without anyone else’s help (and certainly no help from the previous administration) tracked down and killed bin Laden? Remember the criticism of the Bush administration for not accomplishing such an easy task as finding one guy and killing him? Only Obama could do that. So, why hasn’t Obama found Zawahiri if it is so easy?
He’s hiding, otherwise he’d be every bit as dead as a majority of his former high-ranking al Qaeda associates presently are. What do you not understand about presistance and effectiveness with which these people have been hunted down and killed since Obama took office?
There’s also an ISIS target list. Abu Sayyaf’s name was crossed off that a few days ago.
And yes, the Obama administration did get Osama bin Laden.
But don’t allow reality to get in the way of the republican bullshit campaign.
Obama administration didn’t get ObL any more than Truman administration got Hitler.
The Navy SEALS got ObL, with lots of hard work from the Intel people for more years than Obama had been in office. As a matter of fact, if you go back and research that day, Obama was on the golf course when the SEAL Team 6 mission started. What kind of cold, callous bastard sends men into the belly of the beast and goes golfing while their lives are in harm’s way?
Gullible Greggie, ever the idiot.
Greg, I don’t disparage Obama his feather in the cap over bin Laden (which, wouldn’t have happened how it happened without information gleaned through the CIA interrogation of HVDs through standard means and through EITs- I’m even more convinced of this after reading Morell’s book covering the Feinstein Report).
However, know this: We’ve been killing and capturing al Qaeda members the previous 8 years before the Obama tenure.
That’s from Richard Miniter’s book, “Shadow War”. Most of the original al Qaeda members are pushing up daisies. One of the big ones was the capture of KSM- you know, the actual mastermind who conceived of the plan to fly planes into buildings? And yes he was waterboarded; and yes he gave up a trove of actionable intelligence. By 2006, 2/3rds of what we came to understand about al Qaeda, its finances, its communication and courier system, operations, operatives, training, etc. was directly acquired through the CIA RDI Program.
President Obama is a beneficiary of much of the GWoT infrastructure and systems created by his predecessor after 9/11.
President Obama sure does love them drones.
But… but… but… Bush was chided, insulted and criticzed for not being able to find bin Laden in the mountains of Tora Bora, while it took Obama a month to decide to kill him when he had his address. So, if it was so easy to find bin Laden when Bush was President, why is it excusable for Obama not to find and kill Zawahiri, just because he is “hiding”?
Why didn’t Obama go get Bergdahl instead of replenishing the terrorist’s stock of leaders for one deserter? Why didn’t Obama rescue Foley or Sommers? Do you really want the answer?
Because its HARD, Greg. They are hard to find, especially when Obama likes to grandstand over killing them rather than capture them and wring intelligence out of them. Often, even when he HAS the intelligence, he dawdles, stalls and waits until he is sure all the political back-lash of a mission gone wrong can be buried or excused away (perhaps no videos are available at the time to blame) before he gives the go-ahead… by then, it is too late.
There WAS no intelligence network when Bush began to fight terror, thanks to Clinton and Reno. So, first he had to build it, THEN he used it. Obama benefited greatly from what the Bush administration developed and has contributed NOTHING to enhancing it.
To continue the war on terror, we need, first, a leader. Obama is no leader. Then, we need a leader with BALLS. Obama has no balls; he will take no action unless he can assure himself nothing is viewed as his fault. Lastly, we need a leader, with balls, that is dedicated to preserving the strength and security of the United States.
Strike three, Greg. YER OUT!!
How do you want to have it? Are presidents ultimately responsible for what they order to be done, or are they responsible for nothing?
In your case, how that question is answered depends on how it needs to be answered at any given moment to maintain your delusional view of reality. There’s no consistency to your application of logic whatsoever—only to your willingness to reverse it in the blink of an eye whenever necessary.
For example, there were 19 deadly attacks on various U.S. embassies around the world during the course of the Bush administration—deadly embassy attacks during every year of the Bush administration—none of which the Bush administration was in any way responsible for. (Feel free to go ahead with your predictable attack on the left wing source, while totally ignoring the fact that every incident listed actually occurred and can be easily verified.)
Obama is totally responsible for releasing 7 terrorists who subsequently returned to the battlefield, correct? It clearly follows that the guy is a menace to America, and most likely by design and intention. Bush, on the other hand, is in no way responsible for the 171 released on his own watch that were verified to have rejoined the war against our nation and people.
Obama was responsible for the removal of Osama bin Laden to whatever extent any Commander in Chief is responsible for anything done by his order. He’s also responsible for a long list of other terrorists eliminated by his order.
The person in the chain of command who analyses the existing situation, assesses capabilities, benefits, and risks, and then gives the orders to act bears ultimate responsibility for the results.
It’s not the problem of more rational people that the right cannot seem to deal with many obvious conclusions that a consistent application of this logic demands.
Gullible Greggie, there is no one, and I do mean no one, who comes to FA that is more delusional than you are. Nor are there many who can write an entire entry, like you just did, that basically says NOTHING.
That has already been disproven. Obama was on the golf course when the mission to kill ObL began. That much you have to admit. It has also been written that Obama vacillated for days about the mission, with Val Jarrett not wanting him to send troops in. She was afraid it would turn out like Carter’s failed rescue mission and he was, after all, running for re-election. Most people think that it was Panetta and Clinton that ordered the mission but remained quiet about that so not to make Obama look bad (since he does well enough on his own).
But hey, you continue to show you’re an idiot and that’s just fine by me.
Something was most certainly said in that post. A specific assertion was made, and specific evidence was presented in support of that assertion. It’s not hidden; no dots need to be connected; the post isn’t a Where’s Waldo? puzzle. You just have a way of not taking in anything that you don’t want to take in—a characteristic that is perfectly obvious to anyone who isn’t an idiot.
There are a lot of variations on that particular tale. The underlying factor seems to be the right’s obsession with Obama’s golf, which can be traced back to a particular Bush incident that evidently drives you totally nuts. My usual response to observations that Obama has been on a golf course is So what? Do people on the right think a Commander in Chief isn’t paying attention unless he’s sitting in at the Resolute desk wearing a helmet, surrounded by sandbags, issuing orders on a vintage walkie talkie? Presidents deal with the tension of their job in various ways. People do their thinking and their worrying in different settings. If you think presidents are out of communication under such circumstances, you’re running a bit behind the current day’s technological curve.
You obviously were looking in the mirror when you wrote that. No matter what proof people give you about the fallacy of the Democrats and the left, you continue to defend them with one story or another.
Yeah, because everyone knows that FDR was sipping whiskey and playing poker while our forces were preparing to land on the beaches of Normandy, telling his aide to let him know when they landed.
No, Gullible Greggie, Obama did not act properly. He was violating the air space of a sovereign nation and our troops risked being shot out of the sky. But hey, golf can’t wait.
That was the opinion of the left whenever George W. Bush went to his Prairie Chapel ranch. “My God, how can he leave D.C. during X, Y or Z?” the left lamented. Now, with the advent of the Obama administration, technology is here. So glad you told me that.
Yes, you’re an idiot.
You really and truly don’t know shit from Shinola, do you, Greg? Who ever said Bush was not responsible for the attacks during his administration? Being regarded as responsible is not and has not been the issue; the issue is how the Obama administration has shirked all responsibility for, a) ignoring the warnings and requests for added security and b) stonewalling the investigations and hearings looking into what led up to the attack and murders.
There were investigations into each and every one of the attacks during the Bush administration. None were stonewalled or interfered with. The Benghazi investigations, however, have been blocked at every turn. Only slowly and laboriously are the details and facts being revealed, the first of which is that the administration lied from day one about what the nature of the attack was. They lied to preserve their political power.
Attacks will happen. Deaths will occur. The only way further attacks can be prevented is by an open and honest evaluation of the attacks, something Obama and Hillary are not willing to submit to. They are not willing to do this because they are corrupt liars too inept and incompetent to hold any office.
How many of those 19 deadly embassy attacks that took place during the Bush/Cheney administration did republicans deem worth the trouble of full-blown Congressional investigations?
Why wasn’t the Bush administration’s failure to get Osama bin Laden after claiming it to be among our highest national priorities a non-issue on the right, while the Obama administration’s success is treated as some sort of joke?
The pertinent question is, how many of the investigations were stonewalled so that they took 3 years to complete? While it would have been politically harmful, had Obama and Clinto not fought the release of every scrap of evidence and delayed every hearing, the investigation and hearings would have been over years ago.
As it is, we know this: The State Department had months of warnings, took no actions to add security or withdraw personnel. 9/11, of all days, caught them completely unprepared. Then, to top it all off, even knowing from the moment it began that the attack was a pre-planned, coordinated terror attack, they used the silliest, lamest lies to try and cover their political asses…. that’s all, just cover their political butts for an upcoming election.
How many of the embassy attacks under Bush compare with that scenario?
Obama has been a massive failure on all fronts, how could any intelligent person actually think this so called war on terror is real when Obama supports and encourages wide open borders, we have thousands of illegals flooding into this country everyday only a complete fool believes these illegals are all coming from Mexico or South America. Most of these target list radical Muslims are probably living right here in the USA, they walked over the border years ago and now run your local c store, pizza shop or some other local place in your city or town. You cannot have Homeland Security or a war on a terror with wide open borders. Maybe Obama should ask his Muslim Brotherhood friends who were invited to the White House where these radicals are hiding out?
@Wordsmith: Now, why can’t Obama find al Zawahiri? After all, he found bin Laden all by himself. What’s the problem with finding Zawahiri? Should be easy, as the criticism of Bush went.