Who’s next? Ayman al Zawahiri?

A TV grab from the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news channel dated June17, 2005, showing Al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri delivering a speech at an undisclosed location with a machine gun next to him. (Al Jazeera/AFP/Getty Images)

[Ayman al Zawahiri] “… is the likely successor to bin Laden, according to high-level national security officials both current and retired.

… the clear goal he has been actively pursuing is to carry out an attack on America using a Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) or, as a so-called “dirty bomb” is often referred to, a Weapon of Mass Effect (WME).

Based on interviews with a half dozen counterterrorism officials and experts with deep knowledge of Zawahiri, a portrait emerges of a leader who has for at least three years been quietly and effectively building the groundwork — theological and scientific — for Al Qaeda to complete an attack using WMD.

In 2008, Zawahiri wrote a book which presented his own theological grounding for the deployment of a nuclear weapon in America, and Al Qaeda’s sense of the religious justification for killing as many people as possible.

The book is a glimpse inside the religious fervor of a leader who is in many ways more ambitious than bin Laden was in trying to produce a “spectacular” terrorist event that will exceed the death and destruction caused on Sept. 11.”


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