Osama ‘sidelined’ within Al-Qaida: Report
(The Times of India) LONDON: Osama bin Laden has been sidelined by his followers and has no longer any control over the Al-Qaida terror network, according to intelligence officials in Britain and the US.
Instead, his deputy has seized control and rebuilt the terror network into an organisation capable of launching complex attacks in Britain and America, The Sunday Telegraph reported on Sunday, quoting the unnamed officials as saying.
According to them, bin Laden has not chaired a meeting of Al-Qaida’s ruling shura or council in more than two years. “Ayman al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden’s number two, has rebuilt the terror network since the Afghan war in 2001.”
“Al-Qaida under Al-Zawahiri’s direction has promoted a new generation of leaders to the highest echelons of the shura, a group of 20 to 30 leaders who govern operations, finance and religious fatwahs.
“The guys on the subs’ bench are now in the first XI. They have stopped using mobile phones to talk to each other, which has made it more difficult to find them,” a former British intelligence officer said.
Both British and American intelligence officials said that a network of terrorist cells, funded, controlled and supported by Al-Qaida’s central command, based in the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan, was in place again.
In fact, Al-Zawahiri’s task has been made easier as not a single prominent Al-Qaida leader has been captured since March 2006, nearly 18 months ago, according to them.
Citing information gathered by Pakistani intelligence, Bruce Hoffman, a member of the US Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Centre, told the newspaper: “Bin Laden is the brand name but Al-Zawahiri is the grand-strategist.
“He has taken control of Al-Qaida. Despite the new video (released this month), Bin Laden has ceased to be a major force in decision-making and propaganda effort.”
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