Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Zawahiri ‘to fill in Laden shoes’

South Asia at risk of al-Qaeda attacks
Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian surgeon considered the real mastermind of the global terror franchise, is now set to succeed Osama bin Laden as the world’s most wanted man.
Like his Saudi-born co-conspirator, Zawahiri has been hiding ever since the United States declared its war on terror after the September 11, 2001 attacks, reports AFP.
Meanwhile, an Internet outlet for official messages from al-Qaeda has been deleting posts of bin Laden’s death and pledged that the jihad, or holy war, will continue, US monitoring group SITE reported early yesterday.
It said the Shumukh al-Islam forum has been asking users to wait for confirmation of the death before making any more posts, but there was a heavy flow of messages offering prayers and vowing that jihad will continue.
Users also threatened the United States.
Unlike his late comrade, who President Barack Obama said was killed by US forces in Pakistan, Zawahiri is presumed still at large with organisational skills, cunning and intelligence said to eclipse that of bin Laden.
Reportedly last seen in October 2001 in eastern Afghanistan, close to the Pakistan border, he has released multiple videos from his hiding, calling for war on the West.
While bin Laden was seen as al-Qaeda’s inspiration, his deputy is believed to be the real brains that steered operations, including the September 11 attacks, and as a result arguably even more dangerous.
The former eye surgeon’s position as bin Laden’s main strategist and mentor earned the 59-year-old a $25 million bounty on his head.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s list of most wanted terrorists said he was also bin Laden’s personal doctor.
As bin Laden withdrew from the public eye after 2004, it was often up to Zawahiri — identifiable by a prominent lump on his forehead — to motivate the group’s followers with a series of hectoring video appearances, jabbing his finger and staring from behind heavy-rimmed glasses.
Zawahiri met bin Laden when thousands of Islamist fighters from around the world flooded into Afghanistan during the 1980s “jihad”, or holy war, against Soviet forces.
Zawahiri hails from a wealthy Egyptian family. His father was a reputed physician and one of his grandfathers a prayer leader at Cairo’s Al-Azhar institute, the highest authority for Sunni Muslims.
He became involved with Egypt’s radical Muslim community at a young age and was reportedly arrested as young as 15 for being a member of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, the Arab world’s oldest fundamentalist group.
Zawahiri was jailed for three years in Egypt for militancy and was implicated in the 1981 assassination of president Anwar Sadat and the massacre of foreign tourists at the city of Luxor in 1997.
Facing a death sentence, he left Egypt in the mid-1980s initially for Saudi Arabia, but soon he headed for Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar where the resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was based.
In the early 1990s Zawahiri is believed to have lived in Europe before linking up again with bin Laden in Sudan or Afghanistan.
He was arrested in 1996 in Russia after apparently trying to recruit jihadists for Chechnya.
In 1998 he was one of five signatories to bin Laden’s “fatwa” calling for attacks against US civilians and he began appearing regularly at the al-Qaeda leader’s side.
He is listed on the US government’s indictment for the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and he was sentenced to death in absentia by an Egyptian court a year later.
Zawahiri went into hiding after US-led and Afghan Northern Alliance forces toppled the fundamentalist Taliban in late 2001. The Taliban hosted bin Laden and Zawahiri and refused to hand them over after 9/11.
US and Pakistani forces both hunted for Zawahiri and bin Laden in their presumed hiding place along the barren mountains dividing Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In January 2006 Zawahiri escaped a US missile raid on a village in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas. Up to 18 others died, including four al-Qaeda operatives and several civilians.
Before Sunday’s raid, numerous senior figures in al-Qaeda had been killed amid a relentless bombing campaign by US drone aircraft in northwest Afghanistan.
“It’s a significant killing, especially because the trend has been so heavily against al-Qaeda in the last couple of years,” said Seth Jones, a former Pentagon official who advised special forces in Afghanistan.
But it does not mean that “plotting is not still going on,” said Jones, a senior fellow at Rand Corporation, a US think tank.
“None of this means that terrorism will end against the United States,” he said.
But the role of al-Qaeda’s headquarters in Pakistan may begin to recede, he added.
“The role of Pakistan as the central hub may decrease,” Jones said, with branches in Yemen or elsewhere operating “more autonomously.”
Al-Qaeda’s affiliates, including its outfit in Yemen, along with allied groups such as Laskha-e-Taiba and the Pakistani Taliban have emerged as growing threats and have been linked to recent failed plots against the United States.
Al-Qaeda enjoyed more recruits after 9/11 and the US invasion of Iraq, but Bin Laden’s successors will be anxious to stage an attack to rally extremist sympathizers and counter any perception of weakness, Jones said.
“With a blow like this, it will cause them to desperately search for efforts to boost their recruitment base. One of the ways is to stage an attack,” said Jones.
Author Peter Bergen, who has written and reported extensively about Bin Laden, said Al-Qaeda would be hard-pressed to replace him with someone of sufficient influence.
“The big question is whether or not he will end up being the martyr he desired to be,” Bergen said in an interview on CNN.
“Killing bin Laden is the end of the war on terror. There is no one to replace him in al-Qaeda.”
Afghanistan, Pakistan and India are also particularly at risk from more organised attacks, says BBC.
In the former, the al-Qaeda influence among dedicated jihadis like the Haqqani group is still strong.
Pakistan is also extremely vulnerable to attack. Despite a constant spate of denials from the Pakistani authorities – which have now been proven wrong – al-Qaeda recently had its base in Pakistan.
Al-Qaeda and its affiliated Pakistani groups will be determined to launch a bombing campaign in Pakistan in memory of Bin Laden. This will heighten tensions in a country that is already beset with power shortages and an economic crisis.
Finally al-Qaeda and its allies may find this the right moment to create major divisions between India and Pakistan by launching another Mumbai-style attack on Indian territory.
This would aim to take the heat off the hunt for al-Qaeda members in Pakistan.
The Middle East also remains a big vacuum for al-Qaeda because of the ongoing Arab revolt.
It is still a prime target for al-Qaeda as it seeks to gain influence and clout among the new generation of leaders who have emerged in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and the Gulf states. But this task will be much more difficult after Bin Laden’s death.
Clearly Bin Laden’s death will give intelligence agencies around the world many clues and leads to catch other leaders, but al-Qaeda will not disappear overnight.


Courtesy of Agencies/The Daily Star

Related News

5 magnitude earthquake jolts parts of Bangladesh

News Desk : dhakamirror.com A magnitude 5 earthquake jolted a large part of the country on Sunday (2 June) afternoon., including Dhaka. The quake struck at 2:44pm from a depth of about 110km, according to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, and was centred in the Mawlaik area of Myanmar, 441 km southeast of Dhaka. The quake ... Read more

Over 2cr to be fed as daylong Vitamin ‘A’ plus campaign begins

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The National Vitamin A-plus campaign is being conducted with a target to feed the capsules to over 2.22 crore children, aged between six months and 59 months. The campaign started at 8am on Saturday (June 1) and will continue till 4pm. Feeding Vitamin A capsules prevents blindness in children, ensures normal ... Read more

Postponed notice fake, HSC exams on June 30 as per schedule

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and equivalent exams will be held on time as per previous announcement, beginning on 30 June. The routine deferring the exams for a month that is making rounds in social media, is fake, the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Dhaka said on Saturday. A circular ... Read more

3 month-long ban on fishing, tourism in Sundarbans begins

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The forest department has imposed this three-month ban on fishing and tourism in the Sundarbans. Local communities, including fishermen, wood and honey collectors, who depend on the Sundarbans for their livelihoods, are concerned about a three-month ban on all activities in the forest starting Saturday. The restriction applies to visitors, including ... Read more

Appellate Division upholds HC verdict on DU teacher Samia’s demotion

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The Appellate Division today (26 May) upheld the judgement of the High Court which declared illegal the demotion order of Dhaka University faculty Samia Rahman on charges of plagiarism. A four-member appellate bench headed by senior judge M Enayetur Rahim of the Appellate Division rejected the appeal of DU as invalid. ... Read more

3.2 million children at risk as Cyclone Remal hits Bangladesh coasts: UNICEF

News Desk : dhakamirror.com As Cyclone Remal hit the coastal areas of Bangladesh, over 8.4 million people, including 3.2 million children, are at high health, nutrition, sanitation, and safety risks, according to UNICEF. ‘Our thoughts go out to the children and their families at this critical moment as they endure the storm’s impact,’ said UNICEF ... Read more

Classes suspended at coastal area schools due to cyclone

News Desk : dhakamirror.com No classes will be held at schools in the coastal areas due to Cyclone Remal, said State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Mohibur Rahman. He said this after a meeting of the inter-ministerial disaster management coordination committee at the Secretariat on Sunday. According to a bulletin of the Met Office, ... Read more

Cyclone Remal forms over Bay, signal 7 at Payra and Mongla

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The deep depression over the east and west central Bay of Bengal intensified into a cyclonic storm “Remal” at around 9:00 pm today and is expected to hit the country’s coasts between 6pm and 11:59pm tomorrow, according to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD). The Met Office asked the Payra and Mongla ... Read more

Admissions for Class XI start tomorrow

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The first phase of applications for Class XI admission for the 2024–2025 academic year will begin tomorrow, May 26, and run through June 11th. According to the XI class admission circular 2024-25, the online application system is divided into three phases with designated application windows, result announcements, and confirmation periods. Students ... Read more

Exam will not be postponed for Cyclone Remal: NU

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The National University has decided not to postpone the Introduction to Government Policy exam for 4th-year Political Science honours students for the academic year 2022, despite the warning for the approaching Cyclone Remal. The exam is scheduled to be held on Sunday (26 May) at 1:00pm, the same day that the ... Read more

Gold price cut by Tk 1,084 per bhori

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The prices of gold in the country’s local market witnessed a fall on Thursday as the Bangladesh Jewellers’ Association (Bajus) slashed the price of 22-carat gold by Tk 1,084 per bhori (11.664 grammes). The new rate for the precious metal will come into effect on Friday, BAJUS said in a press ... Read more

Don’t pay anyone for visas, or work permits: Italian envoy

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Italian Ambassador to Bangladesh, Antonio Alessandro, advised visa-seekers not to pay anyone for visas, emphasising that the embassy only charges small taxes and processing fees. “Our services are free except for these official fees,” he said today (21 May) following a meeting with Shofiqur Rahman Choudhury, the State Minister for Expatriates’ ... Read more

Bangladeshi mountaineer Babar Ali conquers Everest

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Babar Ali from Chattogram has summited Mount Everest and raised the red and green flag on the world’s highest peak. He reached the summit at 8:30am local time (8:45am Bangladesh time) on Sunday, proudly raising the red and green flag of Bangladesh. He began his journey on 1 April, after necessary ... Read more

Price of gold increases by Tk1,178 per bhori

The new rate will be effective from Sunday (19 May) News Desk : dhakamirror.com The Bangladesh Jewellers Association (Bajus) today (18 May) increased the price of gold by Tk1,178 per bhori, followed by a price hike in the local bullion market. According to a Bajus statement, 22-carat gold will now cost Tk1,18,460 per bhori (11.664 ... Read more

9 Bangladeshis named in Forbes “30 Under 30 Asia” list

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Nine Bangladeshis have been named in Forbes “30 Under 30 Asia” list for their contributions across various industries. Forbes announced its prestigious “30 Under 30 Asia” list for the ninth consecutive year yesterday (15 May), showcasing 300 exceptional young individuals under the age of 30 who are making significant strides across ... Read more

SC Stays HC Verdict On Condemn Cell

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The Appellate Division on Wednesday stayed a High Court verdict that asked the jail authorities not to put death sentence inmates in the solidarity confinement before the end of all legal processes. The Appellate Division judge in chamber, Justice M Enayetur Rahim, granted the stay after hearing an appeal filed by ... Read more

BRTA to take ‘no helmet, no fuel’ policy for bikers

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Besides, no battery-run auto-rickshaws will be allowed to operate in Dhaka The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) has decided to take a “no helmet, no fuel” approach for motorcycle riders across the country. Besides, no battery-run auto-rickshaws will be allowed to operate in Dhaka, according to decisions taken at a meeting ... Read more

MV Abdullah finally arrives at Ctg port

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The 23 crew members of Bangladeshi flag carrier MV Abdullah, which was recently freed from the captivity of Somali pirates, has reached the Chittagong Port today (14 May). The Chittagong Port Authority has a reception at the New Mooring Container Terminal (NCT) to welcome back the sailors. Their family members are ... Read more

JnU female student gets 5 yrs in DSA case

News Desk : dhakamirror.com A Dhaka tribunal has sentenced Tithy Sarker, a suspended student of Jagannath University, to five years imprisonment in a DSA case filed for making derogatory comments about religion on Facebook. However, it has granted her a year-long probation on eight conditions, including regular care for her aged father, following traffic rules, ... Read more

Detention in condemned cells before final disposal of the case unlawful: High Court

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The High Court (HC) has ruled that it is illegal and unlawful to detain convicts in the condemned cell (blind cell) of the prison before the death sentence is finalised by the verdict of the Supreme Court’s Appellate Division. The High Court bench of Justice Sheikh Hasan Arif and Justice Md ... Read more