Washington: Al Qaeda`s new leader Ayman al-Zawahiri does not match his predecessor Osama bin Laden in
his charisma nor does he have the slain leader`s credentials,
a top official of the Obama administration said on Thursday.
Hours after the announcement of al Qaeda appointing a
successor to bin Laden became public, a senior Administration
official was quick to point out that given the baggage
al-Zawahiri was carrying, it was unlikely that he would enjoy
the position bin Laden did in the extremist network.
However, there was no immediate reaction from either
the White House or the State Department on the announcement by
a jihadist website that al-Zawahiri will now head the network
that orchestrated the 9/11 attacks.
"The bottom line is that Zawahiri has nowhere near the
credentials that Osama bin Laden had," the official said,
Al-Zawahiri has not demonstrated strong leadership or
organisational skills during his time in al Qaeda or
previously in the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the official said,
adding that his ascension to the top spot will likely generate
criticism if not alienation and dissension with al Qaeda.
Unlike many of al Qaeda`s top members, Zawahiri has
not had actual combat experience, opting to be an armchair
general with a "soft" image, the senior administration
"No matter who is in charge, he will have a difficult
time leading al Qaeda while focusing on his own survival as
the group continues to hemorrhage key members responsible for
planning and training operatives for terrorist attacks," the
official said. Soon after the killing of Osama bin Laden in a US
raid, Obama`s top counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, at a
White House news conference had made similar observations when
asked about the al Qaeda number two.
"The number two, Zawahiri is not charismatic. He was
not involved in the fight earlier on in Afghanistan, so -- and
I think he has a lot of detractors within the organisation. I
think you`re going to see them start eating themselves from
within more and more," Brennan said.