In a statement released online nine hours ago via the Fajr Media Center and dated June 2011, the General Command of al-Qaeda declared its decision to appoint Ayman al-Zawahiri the new head of al-Qaeda. This move was not unanticipated except by those with strange Awlaki/Libi fixations. Leah Farrall guessed it would be so on organizational grounds and Murad and I parsed Zawahiri’s eulogy to Bin Laden to arrive at the same conclusion.
In addition to naming Zawahiri as the new amir, here are other highlights from the statement:
- A special shout out to Palestine, promising its people that al-Qaeda is fighting for their liberation.
- A reaffirmation of Zawahiri’s oath of allegiance to Mullah Omar, saying that “We stress to our brothers in Afghanistan that we are with you, in spirit and what we possess, under the leadership of commander of the faithful Mullah Muhammad Omar. “
- A shout out to Umar Abd al-Rahman and other imprisoned mujahids.
- Encouragement for the uprisings in the Middle East but also a caution that true change will only come after implementing the Sharia and that won’t happen until all forms of occupation are gone.
Update: A great Foreign Policy round table on the significance of Zawahiri’s elevation.
In an underground agency like al-Qaida, removing the head is not as deadly as some people think… And Zawahiri and his cohorts will try to prove that point.