Now even al-Qaeda say bin Laden is dead

Dominic Browne reports on the confirmation of Osama bin Laden's death by al-Qaeda and on the future for the jihadi-takfiri trend in general.

Al-Qaeda have confirmed the death of Osama bin Laden. The statement said to be from “the general leadership of al-Qaeda” has not been independently confirmed, but was released through websites normally used by the terrorist group.

The statement called on the people of Pakistan, “where Sheikh Osama was killed”, to rise up against their leaders.

It continued:

“We stress that the blood of the holy warrior sheikh, Osama bin Laden, God bless him, is precious to us and to all Muslims and will not go in vain.

“We will remain, God willing, a curse chasing the Americans and their agents, following them outside and inside their countries. Soon, God willing, their happiness will turn to sadness, their blood will be mingled with their tears.”

The speculation over the future of this extremist movement will no doubt continue for many years. Early analysis shows that while his death is by no means the end of the movement it may lead to regional fracturing.  

Christopher Anzalone, at Informed Comment, a doctoral student in the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University, has written on the Jihadi-Takfiri trend after bin Laden. Anzalone points out that transnational Islamic extemism must be separated from regional movements that depend on specific motivations.

These movements most particularly in south and south east Asia are very strong in their own right, and present a threat to world peace and democracy that will be less effected by bin Laden’s death than al-Qaeda central. He also warns against under-estimating the support, albeit minority support, for regional extremists in the wake of the “Arab Spring”.

Anzalone writes:

While it is true that the “Arab Spring” has been a significant setback for al-Qaeda Central and its Arab regional affiliates, it is critically important to remember that the transnational militant trend they represent are not limited to them.

The future of this trend depends, in large part, to how the U.S. and European governments together with their allies around the world react to the historic events in the Arab world, conduct the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and interact with the populations of the Muslim world…

Regional militant movements such as the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani Network, Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban), and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan maintain their own independent networks, leadership structures, and set of country and region-specific goals, thus they are less likely than al-Qaeda Central and its regional affiliates to be negatively impacted by bin Laden’s killing.

While these movements maintain relations or alliances with al-Qaeda Central they are not dependent on the largely Arab militant organization for their survival and maintain their own military capabilities… 

In recent years al-Qaeda Central has become increasingly reliant on the military strength of its regional allies such as the Pakistani Taliban and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Many of the goals of the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani Network, and the Pakistani Taliban are independent of al-Qaeda Central and are unlikely to be affected by Bin Laden’s death and any turmoil that may result within al-Qaeda Central’s ranks.

However, Anazalone points out that the group have developed possible leaders in waiting such as Abu Yahya al-Libi, ‘Atiyyatullah Abi ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Libi, Khalid bin ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Husaynan, and Anwar al-‘Awlaqi.

Although whether this is a strength or a possible weakness that could lead to in-fighting and more fracturing remains to be seen.

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