This morning Quilliam published an new briefing paper ‘The coming struggle within al-Qaeda’ that describes the competing ideological and factional trends within al-Qaeda in the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader. The paper outlines the challenges that Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s successor will face over the coming months and assesses his chances of holding al-Qaeda together now that bin Laden has gone.

Noman Benotman, a Libyan former jihadist close to Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri who is now a senior analyst at Quilliam, said:

‘Despite the media speculation to the contrary, Ayman al-Zawahiri is certainly going to be the next leader of al-Qaeda. However just because his leadership was not contested, this does not mean that everyone in al-Qaeda is going to be happy with where he takes the organisation.

‘Within al-Qaeda’s leadership there are those who want to the organisation to become more pragmatic and those who want it to become more extreme, there are those who want it to focus on Egypt and others who want it to focus on Saudi and Yemen. The question is whether Zawahiri will be able to manage these competing currents.

‘Bin Laden was the super-glue that held Al-Qaeda together. Without him the organisation may just fall apart. This is a moment of historic weakness for al-Qaeda and a moment of opportunity for the international community.’

The briefing is available to download here.

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