Even before a drone strike earlier this month eliminated Abu Yahya al-Libi, al-Qaeda had been considering a move from Waziristan.
The death of the top al-Qaeda figure known as “Younis al-Sahrawi” delivered a crippling blow to a terrorist organisation already under severe pressure in its traditional strongholds.
The African Sahel looked like a good place to base operations. But unlike Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Sahel has constraints that al-Qaeda cannot overcome.
The emergence of new terror groups – both independent and AQIM-affiliated – raised concerns over the potential “Afghanisation” of the Sahel.
Upon careful consideration, however, it is clear that these groups have neither the weight nor the charismatic leadership needed to become a threat to the stability of the region.
No terrorist leader active in the Sahel today can command any broad authority. Even Abu Zeid, who presumably negotiated the accession of the GSPC to al-Qaeda, has no influence on the terrorist groups in this large desert.
These loose bands of armed men manage to survive and make headlines through kidnappings, which provide a significant source of funding.
Al-Qaeda keeps breaking down, and the crisis in Mali further confirms the difficulties faced by this terrorist organisation in managing its remaining troops.
The dismal failure of the terrorist network to have any hand in the Arab revolutions made it lose ground. In Mali, al-Qaeda saw an opportunity.
It did not work out as planned.
Al-Qaeda had hoped to wield more clout in the conflict opposing the Touaregs and the central government in Bamako. Instead, it ended up mired in an overwhelming conflict and alienating the few supporters it had left in the region.
The desperate pleas by Ayman al-Zawahiri to Maghreb youth on June 10th confirm how challenging it is for al-Qaeda to find new followers, or recruit new leaders capable of reinvigorating the organisation founded by Osama bin Laden.
The killing of al-Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi in an… more
The killing of any leader of al-Qaeda means the retreat… more