Different figurehead, same jihad. “Egyptian Saif al-Adel now acting leader of al Qaeda, ex-militant [sic] say,” by Peter Bergen for CNN, May 17:
(CNN) — An Egyptian who was once a Special Forces officer has been chosen “caretaker” leader of al Qaeda in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, according to a source with detailed knowledge of the group’s inner workings.
Al Qaeda’s interim leader is Saif al-Adel, who has long played a prominent role in the group, according to Noman Benotman. Benotman has known the al Qaeda leadership for more than two decades. He was once a leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a militant organization that used to be aligned with al Qaeda, but in recent years renounced al Qaeda’s ideology.
Benotman told CNN that based on his personal communications with militants and discussions on jihadist forums, al-Adel, also known as Muhamad Ibrahim Makkawi, had been chosen interim chief of al Qaeda because the global jihadist community had grown restive in recent days about the lack of a formal announcement of a successor to bin Laden.
According to Benotman, this was not a decision of the formal shura council of al Qaeda, because it is currently impossible to gather them in one place, but was rather the decision of six to eight leaders of al Qaeda in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area. Al-Adel was already one of the top leaders of the group.
However, Benotman said, the choice of an Egyptian may not sit well with some Saudi and Yemeni members of al Qaeda, who believe bin Laden’s successor should come from the Arabian Peninsula, a region that is holy to all Muslims. Bin Laden was from a wealthy Saudi family.
The presumed successor to bin Laden is his long-time deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is also Egyptian. Benotman, who has long been a reliable source of information about al Qaeda, said the temporary appointment of al-Adel may be a way for the leadership to gauge reaction to the selection of someone from beyond the Arabian Peninsula as the group’s leader….