New York: Al Qaeda has people to fill in the void created by the death of its leaders like Abu Yahya al- Libi, a US security expert has warned, highlighting the need to tackle the terror network's ability to exploit "ungoverned space" in countries like Pakistan in order to defeat it.
Bill Roggio of Long War Journal, a news website which reports on the war on terror, sounded a cautious note on the killing of Qaeda's second-in-command Libi in a recent drone strike in North Waziristan tribal region of Pakistan.
While Libi was an influential religious leader, al Qaeda did not rely on him alone to provide religious guidance and approval for 'fatwas', Roggio said in a blog post.
Libi had moved up the ranks to become the second-in- command in the terror network after Ayman al-Zawahri, who assumed leadership of the group following the killing of Osama bin Laden in a US raid in Pakistan last year.
Al Qaeda has been able to replace past leaders who have been killed or captured after the US launched its war against it and its allied groups since the 9/11 attacks, Roggio said.
"Killing the top leadership harms al Qaeda, but it won't defeat them," he said, adding, "there are people who will step up to fill the void. Al Qaeda has a far deeper bench than the administration gives it credit for."
Roggio added that while drone strikes are an effective short-term tactic against al-Qaeda militants, they did not present a complete strategy.
"Until we tackle al Qaeda's ideology, state support and ability to exploit ungoverned space in countries like Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, you are not going to defeat the organisation," he said.
A US intelligence official familiar with al Qaeda's network told the Long War Journal that the group has an established religious committee and while Libi was an important member, without a doubt, "he did not operate in a vacuum."
One such prominent member of al Qaeda's religious committee is Khalid bin Abdul Rahman al-Husainan, who is also known as a Abu Zeid al-Kuwaiti.
Al-Husainan is "presented as an al Qaeda religious scholar," SITE stated.
Separately, a US official told the New York Times that al Qaeda will have a difficult time finding a replacement for Libi. "There is no one who even comes close in terms of replacing the expertise al Qaeda has just lost."
First Published: Wednesday, June 06, 2012, 18:21