After a lull in issuing regular communiques, Al-Qaida’s Senior Leadership has released two doozies over the past week. The first product came in the form of a video list of demands by Al-Qaida’s emir, Ayman al-Zawahiri, for the release of a 70-year-old US aid worker that al-Qaida took hostage approximately four months ago in Pakistan. One of the demands made by Zawahiri was a prisoner swap of notables like the Blind Sheikh, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and, importantly, Abu Musab al-Suri.
For those who might not remember, Suri was the brainchild of al-Qaida’s decentralized warfare strategy and a favorite author of the late Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. A quick scan of the Inspire Magazines shows what a virtual ode they had become to Suri’s legacy of writing and theorizing. The fact that Zawahiri would push for Suri’s release gives further credence to the argument being made by CRONUS that Zawahiri fully understands the need for reconceptualizing al-Qaida’s relevance to its global movement in the face of declining core capacity. If he was ever released, Abu Musab al-Suri, who the jihadi online movement believes is now in Syrian custody, would help blaze a trail for a post-Al-Qaida Al-Qaida in a way that no active jihadists today could do.
The second video release from Al-Qaida this week was issued by the group’s top sheikh, Abu Yahya al-Libi. In his statement entitled, “Libya: What Is Wanted for Her,” Abu Yahya presses his Libyan countrymen to avoid squandering the removal of Qaddaffi by working with the United States and its allies. The video’s release confirms Abu Yahya’s continued importance to Al-Qaida and the relevance that Libya retains to Al-Qaida’s North African strategy and is, therefore, lends further support to the argument that the United States must remain actively engaged in Libya to ensure that al-Qaida does not make inroads in that country.