Why didn’t Al Qaeda succeed in avenging Osama’s death?

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In the aftermath of the capture and death of Osama bin Laden in May 2011, the terrorist organization he led swore that the jubilation in the White House would soon be “replaced by pain and blood.”

Days later, jihadist websites published news about “a curse that hunts Americans and their collaborators and persecutes them outside and inside their country.”

This threat sounded a lot like an al Qaeda fatwa, a kind of modern version of the ancient curse that supposedly fell on the desecrators of the ancient royal tombs in Egypt, the homeland of al Qaeda’s new top leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. .

“Death will come on swift wings to anyone who disturbs the King’s peace.” This is the wording of a curse anecdotally reported to have been found on the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1922 by Howard Carter and his wealthy English patron, the Earl of Carnarvon. Carnarvon died very soon after, from the bite of a mosquito (swiftwings).

Osama Bin Laden was a kind of modern pharaoh, the King of Terror. SEAL Team Six disturbed his sleep in a major way, then sent him to the bottom of the Arabian Sea where he could sleep for eternity.

To the surprise of analysts from global intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic, a ten-paragraph confirmation of Osama’s death was also released, seemingly closing the door on an option many believed al Qaeda likely would have kept open for years. : the preservation of the belief that Bin Laden was still alive, that SEAL Team Six had killed the wrong man, and that the great Osama Bin Laden would lead his warriors to supreme victory again at some point in the future.

And now there are only a few months to go until the 36-month anniversary of OBL’s death, its three-year anniversary.

What Does Al Qaeda’s Report Card Say About Avenging OBL’s Death? How successful has Ayman al-Zawahiri been in establishing his “street credibility” as a jihadist who can deliver devastating revenge for the assassination of the most notorious terrorist of our time? And what has al Qaeda’s new top management, the boardroom directors of global terror, done to maintain the jihadist momentum in the aftermath of the spectacular takedown of Pharaoh of Jihad, Osama Bin Laden?

At various times since the death of OBL in Abbottabad, red alerts have been sounded in Washington and elsewhere regarding possible new attacks that were thought to be strategically significant, very large, usually based on intercepted communications, “talk ” Lifted from the ether by the Department of Homeland Security. Agency (NSA) in Fort Meade.

Last August, for example, senior US counterterrorism officials expressed “concern about devices that could be implanted inside a terrorist’s body… surgically implanted devices that have been developed to defeat detection methods.”

Following such reports, the State Department has occasionally closed embassies or evacuated non-essential personnel from hot spots abroad in an effort to mitigate potential terrorist attacks.

But, in general, the scene of terror has been one of apathy and stillness. How many men surround the fugitive Ayman al-Zawahiri in his hideout in the tribal desert of Pakistan? Are they a significant force?

Many believe that al Qaeda’s core group consists of just a hundred desperate and hunted men, men whose eyes wander skyward where modern mechanical birds of prey hunt them mercilessly. Drones have killed thousands of terrorists in Pakistan and perhaps thousands more innocent people as collateral damage.

Even before OBL’s death, the US National Intelligence Agency noted “progress in Muslim opinion turning against terrorist groups like al-Qaeda.” Indeed, there is no nation on the planet that is remotely likely to be ruled by Al-Qaeda. Ayman al-Zawahiri himself is more concerned with the lack of organizational cohesion within his senior leadership and the risk of his capture or death. Posting insulting and crazy video threats, which he continues to do sporadically, is not the same as carrying out punitive attacks.

It is not surprising then that so many wary high-level intelligence professionals think al Qaeda has lost its fangs. It is not that terrorism has been defeated, which is another matter. There are groups other than Al Qaeda that should concern us. But al Qaeda is not the formidable organization it once was. Maybe OBL was not easy to replace?

There is a new kind of terrorism in the world, a smarter modern kind of terrorism, the kind that makes deals with those in power to find a place at the table. How does it work?

A few years ago, Hamas was forced to respond to a very ugly attack by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who accused Hamas of “joining the surrender bandwagon” by agreeing to participate in supervised elections that could eventually result in a unity government, where training terrorists would really have a say in the corridors of power.

Hamas was right when it responded to al-Zawahiri with the comment that the group did not need the advice of “a fugitive in the Afghan mountains” who probably “didn’t know what was going on.”

At some point, terrorists must decide whether they want to blow up people or rule. And that is a threshold that al Qaeda leaders have not crossed, and perhaps cannot cross because they have distanced themselves from many of their peers.

That truth may turn out to be a death sentence not only for Ayman al-Zawahiri, but also for the al Qaeda organization itself.

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