Al-Qaeda confronting an uncertain future 19 years after 9/11 attack

WION New Delhi, India Sep 11, 2020, 07.54 PM(IST) Edited By: Gravitas desk

File photo: Osama bin Laden Photograph:( Zee News Network )

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Al-Qaeda is pursuing a strategy of silently rebuilding and forging alliances with regional groups that maintains affiliations across Africa, West Asia, and South Asia.

The United States on Friday marks the 19th anniversary of the shocking 9/11 attack that was orchestrated by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

On September 11, 2001, 19 men hijacked 4 fuel-loaded US commercial airplanes bound for west coast destinations. The operation was planned by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Also see: In pics- How militants, terrorists have enhanced strike capabilities post 9/11

American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. 2,753 died after the two American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 planes slammed into the twin towers. 

US Navy Seals killed Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan in 2011. FBI, CIA, and Pakistani intelligence worked together and captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 2003 from a house outside Islamabad.

Also read: US President Donald Trump confirms death of al-Qaeda heir Hamza bin Laden

The present chief of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri hasn't achieved the household notoriety that bin Laden had.

Al-Qaeda is pursuing a strategy of silently rebuilding and forging alliances with regional groups that maintains affiliations across Africa, West Asia, and South Asia.

According to the Center of International Security and Cooperation, the group's leadership is based in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As of 2018, it had anywhere between 32 thousand to 44 thousand members. Most fighters are believed to be in Africa.

There could be 5,000 fighters in Libya, 4000 in Yemen, and at least 7000 in Somalia. At least 10 thousand fighters could be operating out of Syria.

The Council of Foreign Relations claims that the al Qaeda and its affiliates are active in Russia and the Indian subcontinent too.

Ayman al-Zawahiri has been able to prevent defections of senior leaders. This includes names like Saif al-Adel. A former Egyptian military colonel and explosives expert.

And Abu Mohammed al-Masri who masterminded the 1998 twin truck bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

As per the US, al-Zawahiri has a threat. America has placed a 25 million dollar bounty for his head but he has been absent for months leading many to speculate that he might be dead or incapacitated. 

He has made only one appearance this year in a year to refute atheism. 

The al-Qaeda has even tried to exploit the pandemic as well as the race protests in the United States. But the efforts failed to gain traction.

Last year, the US had claimed that the son of Osama bin laden, hamza, died in an operation. 

Without a clear line of leadership, the future of al-Qaeda looks uncertain.

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