Nytt

Al Qaidas no. 2. Ayman al-Zawahiri figurer nå på videoer og radio med en slik hyppighet og hurtighet at det bestrider oppfatningen av lederne bor i huler, avskåret fra omverdenen. Det motsatte er åpenbart tilfelle: Zawahiri er i høy grad online.

Antall utsendelser er doblet siden ifjor, da aktiviteten virkelig tok seg opp. Uansett hvor han er: Zawahirir har tilgang til moderne video- og kommunikasjonsutstyr. Hendelsene han kommenterer blir stadig ferskere. Den 11. juli kommenterte han beleiringen av Den røde moske i Islamabad.

Ekspertene er enig om at Zawahiri sitter «sentralt» plassert. Det AP ikke går inn på at «noen» i Pakistan vet hvor han er, men ikke gjør noe med det.

«The notion of them hiding in a deep, dark primitive cave isolated from electricity and all communication with the outside is strongly misguided,» said Ben Venzke of the IntelCenter, a U.S.-based intelligence group that monitors terrorism messages. «The speed which they have demonstrated (getting messages out) shows that they are far from cut off.»

Venzke said the surge in al-Qaida propaganda messages began in 2006, and the terror network has doubled the pace this year. The group’s media wing, al-Sahab, released 58 audio and video messages last year; this year’s tally is already 62.

U.S. counterterrorism analysts said this week that al-Qaida has restored its operating capabilities to a level unseen since the months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. And while the intelligence does not point to a specific threat, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said this week that he has a «gut feeling» the United States faces a heightened risk of attack this summer.

Al-Zawahri is certainly acting like a man with renewed confidence.

Mens Zawahiris ansikt dukker opp støtt og stadig, er det taust fra Osama bin Laden. Det bekrefter oppfatningen av at de befinner seg på forskjellige steder. Men betyr det også at Zawahriri har overtatt som øverste leder? Derom strider de lærde.

Rohan Gunaratna, an analyst who heads the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore, said bin Laden’s silence is an indication that al-Zawahri has supplanted him as al-Qaida’s supreme commander.

«Ayman al-Zawahri has emerged as the leader of the global jihad movement. He’s not only speaking on behalf of al-Qaida, but as the leader of the al-Qaida organization and its associated homegrown groups,» he said.

Ahmed Rashid, the author of several books on Islamic extremism in South and Central Asia, said it is a mistake to think of al-Qaida leaders holed up in the mountains.

«They have studio facilities, they have access to all sorts of communications and news and all the rest of it, so they are not hiding out in some cave,» he said. «They are very well settled somewhere.»

Den operasjonelle siden er kanskje den mest bekymringsfulle:

«If they have the ability to publicly release videos, then they certainly have retained the ability to communicate with their cells and affiliates around the world.»

Al-Qaida ops show leadership in control