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Bruce Riedel, thedailybeast.com / Aug 15, 2011 11:42 PM EDT.
Ayman al-Zawahiri in a video released by the media arm of al Qaeda in 2008., Anonymous.
In the 100-plus days since Osama bin Laden’s death, his successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has been a busy man. He has issued a series of audio messages reshaping al Qaeda’s message to adapt to the Arab revolutions and consolidated his grip on al Qaeda’s numerous franchises. If he is under pressure, he is not showing it.
In a message released this weekend, Zawahiri againmourns the loss of his predecessor and promises that al Qaeda will “pursue America, which killed the imam of the mujahedeen and threw his body into the sea.” Noting that America’s longtime friends in the Arab world, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Tunisian President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, have been toppled from power and Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been driven out of the country, Zawahiri says America’s position in the Arab world is “staggering” and will soon collapse completely. He urges supporters of al Qaeda to engage in a vigorous debate about the best strategies and tactics to defeat America.
This is the latest in a dozen messages released so far this year by al Qaeda’s As Sahab (In the Clouds) media forum and featuring the Egyptian terror leader. Already he has more than tripled his production of messages from his pace in 2010, when he put out only four. Two of those were extremely short; all these have been lengthy. Zawahiri’s operational tempo as a propagandist for global jihad has accelerated even further since bin Laden’s demise.
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