Following the elimination of Al Qaeda top dog Ayman Al Zawahiri in Afghan capital Kabul, Joe Biden seems to be in celebration mood as he has already told Americans – the global terrorist outfit is “gone”. Back in 2006, immediately after the announcement of terrorist Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi’s death, who was known as Osama Bin Laden’s ‘prince of Al Qaeda in Iraq’, almost every major politicians in the world, including US President Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, then Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki expressed triumph through series of speeches. But what was really happening? Did Al-Zarqawi’s death cause any major blow to the radical Islamic jihadist outfits?
Commenting on Zawahiri’s death, prominent counterterrorism expert Raymond Ibrahim wrote:
The West’s plight vis-à-vis radical Islam is therefore akin to Hercules’ epic encounter with the multi-headed Hydra-monster. Every time the mythical strongman lopped off one of the monster’s heads, two new ones grew in its place. To slay the beast once and for all, Hercules learned to cauterize the stumps with fire, thereby preventing any more heads from sprouting out. Similarly, while the West continues to lop off monster heads like figurehead Zarqawi [or Zawahiri, bin Laden, al-Baghdadi, et al] it is imperative to treat the malady—radical Islam—in order to ultimately prevail. Victory can only come when the violent ideologies of Islam are cauterized with fire. But alas, the Hydra-monster is myth, while radical Islam is stark reality.
Consider, for instance, all the exultation that took place in 2006 after al-Zarqawi—the forefather of the Islamic State, or “Al-Qaeda Second Generation”—was killed. Then, almost every major politician, including President Bush, Prime Minister Blair, and Iraq’s Prime Minister Maliki, gave some sort of victory speech. The New York Times called his death a “major watershed in the war.”
Similarly, in 2008, after Abu Laith al-Libi was killed, Congressman Peter Hoekstra issued a statement saying that his death “clearly will have an impact on the radical jihadist movement.”
More myopic triumphalism was in the air after Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayub al-Masri were killed in 2010 during a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation. Then, none other than Joe Biden, serving as vice president, said the “deaths are potentially devastating blows to al-Qaeda in Iraq [the embryonic form of the Islamic State],” adding “This operation is evidence in my view, that the future of Iraq will not be shaped by those who would seek to destroy that country”—a prediction that proved to be woefully wrong.
Similarly, U.S. commander Gen. Raymond Odierno asserted that “The death of these terrorists is potentially the most significant blow to al-Qaeda in Iraq since the beginning of the insurgency,” adding that it would be “very difficult” for the al Qaeda network to replace the two men.
And who could forget all the media triumphalism, if not hysteria, surrounding the 2011 death of Osama bin Laden? Then, CNN security analyst Peter Bergen declared that “Killing bin Laden is the end of the war on terror. We can just sort of announce that right now.” Insisting that the “iconic nature of bin Laden’s persona” cannot be replaced, Bergen further suggested that “It’s time to move on.”
Another CNN analyst, Fareed Zakaria, assured us that “this is a huge, devastating blow to al-Qaeda, which had already been crippled by the Arab Spring. It is not an exaggeration to say that this is the end of al-Qaeda in any meaningful sense of the word.”
In retrospect, surely all these assertions and assurances have proven to be immensely puerile—even for “mainstream media analysts.” The only significant development following the killing of bin Laden was the birth, spread, and subsequent hegemony of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (“ISIS”)—an organization that made al-Qaeda pale in comparison when it came to savagery and atrocities.
To recap, for years, Americans were repeatedly told that al-Qaeda was suffering “devastating blows”; that the killing of individual jihadis were “major watersheds in the war”; that “the end of the war on terror” occurred in 2011, when bin Laden died (“it’s time to move on,” counseled Peter Bergen); and “that the future of Iraq will not be shaped by those who would seek to destroy that country,” according to Biden.
Yet, lo and behold: an Islamic State, a caliphate engaged in the worst atrocities of the twenty-first century, was born—despite the deaths of individual jihadi leaders, including the notorious bin Laden.
With the above-mentioned observation of Raymond Ibrahim, one may conclude saying – Ayman Al-Zawahiri’s death is not going to see an end to Al Qaeda or other jihadist outfits around the world. May be onwards, Al Qaeda’s notorious activities will see further momentum with its new leader Saif Al-Adel, who enjoys patronization of the Iranian regime. Al-Adel is using Iranian soil in further expanding the size of Al Qaeda members by giving them full-fledged military and commando training.
While Al Qaeda will continue to grow in Afghanistan under patronization from the Taliban and Haqqani Network – in Iran, this dangerous jihadist outfit will see further boost in its activities – with Al-Adel as the head of Al Qaeda.
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