`Zawahiri `best candidate` to succeed Osama`

Ayman al-Zawahiri is the second and last "emir" of Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

Dubai: Al Qaeda`s top leader Ayman
al-Zawahiri is the "best candidate and right person" to
succeed group`s slain chief Osama bin Laden, whose death will
"boost" Jihad, a top commander of the terror outfit has said.

"Al-Zawahiri is the best candidate and he is the right
person to take over. All wings of al Qaeda would approve of
him and all Jihadist movements trust him greatly," said Rashad
Mohammad Ismail, widely known as Abu Al-Fida, a top commander
of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

"He (al-Zawahiri) has all the qualifications and
experience," Al-Fida was quoted as saying by the English-
language newspaper Yemen Times.

59-year-old Zawahiri, an Egyptian Islamic theologian,
was longtime deputy of bin Laden. He was the second and last
"emir" of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, an affiliate of
al Qaeda.

Al-Fida said the al Qaeda`s wings and branches are
entitled to take a decision on the leadership issue.

The branches include group`s units in Afghanistan,
al Qaeda in Iraq, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Qaeda
in the Islamic Maghreb, in Yemen, as well as the branches in
Somalia, Chechnya, etc.

Bin Laden was killed when US special forces carried
out a raid on a compound near the Pakistan Military Academy in
the garrison city of Abbottabad on May 2.

Soon after bin Laden`s death, controversy raged over
his successor with experts speculating that there is an
infight within the group for the leadership.

Al-Fida said: "it is not a matter of personal meetings
to nominate a leader, rather all wings approve of a decision
taken by senior al Qaeda leaders. Al Qaeda`s wings have to
approve of and pledge allegiance to the nominated leader."

He cited the nomination of Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi in
place of Abu Musa`b Al-Zaraqawi, following the latter`s death.
The decision was taken by the branch leadership in Iraq and it
was approved by the central leaders.

Al-Fida claimed bin Laden`s death will not "have a
significant impact on the group, as his influence was symbolic
only", the paper said.

"Al Qaeda has experienced numerous tragic losses
before and it was always able to overcome such challenges.

Such losses do not weaken... Osama`s death would serve to
boost and expand the coverage of Jihad," he claimed.

AQAP, primarily active in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, was
formed in January 2009 from a merger of al Qaeda`s Yemeni and
Saudi branches.


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