Al Qaida: In a recent meeting, presumably in Pakistan, al Qaida’s council elected Saifal Adel (Abu Saif), one of the early members of al-Qaida, as chief of the party Command of Control for the time being, sources told the Pakistani news service, The News. However, Muhammad Mustafa Yamni is likely to be made al-Qaida chief after a grand consultation. Yamni is currently residing in an African country.
Saifal Adel is an Egyptian and has served at key posts in Egypt terrorist groups. He worked with Ayman al-Zawahiri in the al-Jihad group of Egypt. Zawahiri was bin Laden’s number two. The News reported that Zawahiri would continue holding his posts of al-Qaida patron, and the chief of the al-Qaida Militant Command. Zawahiri also will monitor the international contacts, a task that had been done by Saifal Adel.
The News’ sources reported that Adnan al-Kashri had been placed in charge of general information affairs. Muhammad Nasir al-Washi (Abu Nasir) is now in charge of al-Qaida Africa affairs and Muhammad Adam Khan Afghani was appointed to direct Afghanistan-Waziristan affairs. Fahad al-Qava had been appointed as the Urgent Operational Commander.
Comment: The day after bin Laden’s death, an Asia Times on Line analyst reported that the Saudi (bin Laden) faction and the Egyptian (Zawahiri) faction had had a falling out over leadership and policy direction. The full details of the policy split are not known, but what is known is that Zawahiri publicly supported the Pakistan Taliban in their moves to try to overthrow the government of Pakistan, under Musharraf and under the elected civilians. This included the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
Bin Laden never associated himself with that policy. Bin Laden seems to have favored sensational attacks against Western targets over consolidating a base in Pakistan by taking over the government.
The Egyptians marginalized bin Laden. The lack of security and staff at Abbottabad – a single body guard – indicates bin Laden was a figurehead and a symbol, more than a hands-on commander. The computer disks and thumb drives, in this theory, call to mind Hitler with his war maps in the bunker in Berlin.
According to the Asia Times report, the Egyptian faction delivered the identity and movements of bin Laden’s trusted courier to US intelligence and the courier was aware that he was being tracked so that he could lead US intelligence to the Abbottabad house. The courier was a key actor in an al Qaida intelligence operation to eliminate the Saudi faction and permit the Egyptians to take control.
The operation appears to have worked. The leadership selections, reported by The News, support the hypothesis of betrayal by the Egyptians. No Saudis are in senior leadership positions. Until the promotion of Abu Saif and other non-Saudis to leadership positions, the Asia Times report was just one hypothesis.
Based on statements by Zawahiri, al Qaida may be expected to help the Pakistani Taliban to try to seize control in Pakistan. For them, Pakistan is the objective, not Afghanistan.