Meet Osama Bin Laden's (Temporary) Replacement

Al Qaeda's new "caretaker" leader was once an Egyptian Special Forces officer

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Al Qaeda has appointed a new "caretaker" leader following the death of Osama bin Laden, report Reuters and CNN. The new commander is named Saif al-Adel and will fill an interim operational role until the expected succession of bin Laden's long-time deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. What kind of qualifications does one need to (temporarily) fill the shoes of the world's most wanted terrorist? Here's a look at al-Adel's resumé, organized at no cost to the Al Qaeda up-and-comer by The Atlantic Wire:

  • Training former officer in the Egyptian Special Forces
  • Work Experience Fought the Soviets in Afghanistan in the '80s. In the '90s, helped set up Al Qaeda training camps in Sudan and Afghanistan. In 1998, helped organize the bombings of U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. In the early 2000s, ordered Saudi Arabia's al Qaeda branch to launch a terror attacks against the Saudi government, which began in Riyadh in 2003 and killed "scores" of people.
  • Residence Fled from Afghanistan to Iran after the U.S. toppled the Taliban. According to Reuters, held under house arrest in Iran before being released. Subsequently moved to the Afganistan-Pakistan border.
  • Handicaps or conditions that may make it difficult to perform your job  Saif al-Adel is Egpytian, a choice CNN says may not be tolerated by Al Qaeda's Yemeni and Saudi members "who believe bin Laden's successor should come from the Arabian Peninsula, a region that is holy to all Muslims," writes CNN's Peter Bergen.
  • Mission Statement According to Noman Benotman, a former associate of bin Laden with knowledge of Al Qaeda's inner-workings, al-Adel will be tasked with collecting pledges from various Al Qaeda affiliates around the world to offer a religious oath to al-Zawahiri before he becomes Al Qaeda's permanent leader. This may be difficult because, like al-Adel, al-Zawahiri is Egyptian. Additionally, "there is scant evidence that al-Zawahiri has the charisma of bin Laden, nor that he commands the respect bordering on love that was accorded to bin Laden by members of al Qaeda," reports CNN.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.