The PJ Tatler

Al Qaeda appoints a new interim boss

His name is Saif al-Adel, but that’s not the interesting part. He’s former Special Forces for a US ally, which is somewhat interesting. The most interesting part, in my opinion, is where he is from.

An Egyptian who was once a Special Forces officer has been appointed “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, a militant organization that used to be aligned with al Qaeda, but in recent years renounced al Qaeda’s ideology.

There has been speculation since Osama bin Laden’s death that he may have been betrayed by his long-time number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Zawahiri, like al-Adel, is Egyptian (with an intriguing Libyan connection). OBL was infamously Saudi and had designs on toppling the royal family in his native country and taking control himself. That dream is obviously going to go unfulfilled as he has died in his underwear and not far from his porn stash, from the effect of sudden lead poisoning.

But Zawahiri got his terror start with the Muslim Brotherhood, and took part in the assassination of Anwar Sadat. Al Qaeda’s new interim boss is also Egyptian. With new bosses always come strategic shifts, and with this shift in personnel may come a shift in al Qaeda’s ambitions. The Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological fountainhead of al Qaeda, is on track to get voted into some share of power in Egypt this fall. Egyptians heading up al Qaeda may signal that an alliance between that group and the Brotherhood is now possible. The timing of bin Laden’s demise therefore could not be more fortuitous — from the Islamists’ point of view.