Spotlight: New al-Qaeda leader Zawahiri draws mixed predictions from analysts


Ayman al-Zawahiri has succeeded Osama bin Laden as leader of al-Qaeda, and the media is abuzz with predictions about al-Qaeda's future. Most commentators believe that, especially as al-Qaeda's brand loses relevance during the Arab spring, Zawahiri's abrasive, divisive personality will impede the terrorist group. Many credit bin Laden's personal charisma for attracting so many young men to the organization, and Zawahiri is unlikely to replicate that. But Raymond Ibrahim of the Middle East Forum is trying to counter the view that Zawahiri "is a dour intellectual who is disconnected from young, would-be jihadists." In a Bloomberg op-ed, Ibrahim emphasizes that Zawahiri is a revered intellectual force, having provided al-Qaeda with the philosophical underpinnings for its actions. And unlike bin Laden, Zawahiri was imprisoned and tortured (for the assassination of Anwar Sadat), earning him extra credibility among jihadis.