The demise of Ayman Zawahiri was a welcome event. It would have been unfortunate to allow him to die in bed. Moreover he did not die on the battlefield but in his comfy Taliban supplied lodging.. ..a rather unheroic death for the Al Qaeda number two man. Kudos to the intel people who ferreted out his hiding place…hiding in plain sight as we now know. How long he was ensconced in Kabul we do not know but most likely quite some period of time. So much for the Taliban promise to the hapless Biden administration to not harbor terrorists. Of course Islamist terrorists have no problem with prevarication to Westerners. The Shi’a call it taqiyya ( to conceal their faith for survival) but the Sunni terrorists have appropriated it as they have found it very useful in dealing with gullible Westerners. There are many bits and pieces of information floating around about the life and times of Zawahiri but one I found useful was one from the Washington Institute of Near East policy.
Primarily Zawahiri was long ago nothing more than elder statesman of terror. He has been irrelevant for quite some period of time and was never close to being the charismatic leader bin Laden was. He mostly wrote long rambling esoteric “think” pieces that only Western anti-terrorist gurus read. He was sort not a Pancho of don Quixote fame to Bin Laden. But these Islamist terrorist leaders get very officious and bumptious because of the Western media fascination with mass murderers and suddenly become terror celebrities very much enjoying the spotlight–which is often the reason for their demise. One may have noticed that these terror leaders, when they appear, are often surrounded by a retinue of bodyguards who always seem to be tall and stalwart fellows. Always reminds me of Hitlers body guards, the Leibstandarte.
The point here is that these terror celebrities were able to do their evil because of the Western proclivity to believe that one can transform an evil serpent by being nice. Zawahiri, for instance spent quite a while in the US going from mosque to mosque, preaching murder and mayhem while collecting money. Western anti- terrorism efforts, especially in the US, were mostly mediocre and at times inept. In the United Sates, the 9/11 report laid it out pretty well…bureaucratic infighting plus our leaders inability to understand that some people are so evil they have to be killed. For example, the “blind Sheikh” Omar, who was being treated by badly by the Egyptian government and was rewarded with sanctuary in the states. His entrance into the US was an example of the complacency and ignorance of the Islamist threat. For example when two FBI agents came to see me about a former co worker Ali Mohammed …the so-called “Green beret” terrorist, they displayed woeful ignorance about Islamism. See my post “The terrorist and I ” in 2013.
But the real destruction of the Al Qaeda organization came about the way most terrorist organizations disintegrate….they splinter into warring factions, partly based on obscure theology or ideology but mostly on personalities. When Bin laden wrote Zarkawi, the Jordanian terrorist heading an embryonic ISIS organization suggesting that he stop killing Shi’a civilians he was ignored. That to me was the beginning of the end for the Middle East AQ. ISIS as it grew became the nemesis of Al Qaeda and using differing points of ideology and theology, which their foot soldiers did not understand, the leaders, puffed up with power, spawned all sorts of various branches of terror groups. Finally in Syria, the last remnants were dispersed and its successor only clings to a small part of Syria, possibly not evicted in order for the Russians and Syrian government to maintain a convenient enemy.
Now the Terror gurus speak of the growth of AQ elements in Africa, but in reality, they do not follow any orders from whatever remains of AQ leadership. Their main activity seems to be the murder of defenseless Christians, left unprotected by corrupt regimes and their inept security personnel. Somehow, however, the murder of Christians in Africa, does not sound any alarm bells in Western capitols, except in case of a threat to the regime itself.
Zawahiri supposedly did not agree with perpetrators of the Sadat assassination but he was rounded up anyway with other known Jihadi sympathizers, in sort of the famous “rounding up the usual suspects” way. He was tortured, as all prisoners of the Egyptian regimes, from Nasser to Al Sisi routinely are, quite badly it seems. But ironically his anger seems to be directed at the Americans in his “Far enemy” concept. His idea was that the primary enemy was the West, and by crippling it with terror acts, they could then deal with the little Satans like Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
But I see no real end to Jihadism until there is a Qu’ranic “New Testament,” which in effect modifies the sword passages of the Qur’an specifically the fifth verse of the ninth surah. Now the Western academics usually reinterpret this verse in a different way, claiming it is taken out of context but the reality is that the Islamists, the Jihadis, see it exactly the way it was written and therefore consider themselves the only true Muslims. The up and coming terrorists elite see this as their path to power…inciting the downtrodden of the dysfunctional Islamic societies and corrupt, dictatorial regimes they must endure, to vengeance and criminal violence.
So western academics can write the most erudite treatises in the world claiming the passage does not mean what it says but until it is modified or reinterpreted by all the learned Ulama in the entire Islamic world, this verse and a number of others inspiring violence against non Muslim, ( or anyone they consider non-Muslim) will continue.
Al Qaeda and even the ISIS have mostly run their course but there can be no doubt that Jihadi impulse is alive and well.