Al Qaeda time out?

Thought provoking piece in Al-Arabiya by Faryal Leghari

The call from the high priest of al-Qaeda, expected since some time, has finally come. Second in command to Osama bin Laden, but reportedly the brain behind the organisation’s operations, Ayman al-Zawahiri has urged the Pakistani people to resist the United States attempts to break up their country. He warned them that Washington’s real intention was to divide Pakistan, ‘a Muslim nuclear power state’ and reminded them of their duty to fight jihad.

Given al-Qaeda’s modus operandi, public outbursts of blind following is not what is desired — rather, it is the behind the scene mobilisation, recruitment, training and coordination of operations that is the objective. Zawahiri’s appeal, posted on several al-Qaeda- affiliated websites, at this critical juncture deserves careful study.

The timing of the message is significant. It comes at a time when al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies are facing extreme pressure both in Afghanistan and 
Pakistan, at the hands of the international coalition forces and the Pakistan military. Zawahiri’s appeal is actually one for recruitment and mobilisation to support the militants - both in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the ongoing military operations. In his own words, Zawahiri says, “If we stand by passively without offering due support to the Mujahideen we shall not only contribute to the destruction of Pakistan and Afghanistan, but we shall also deserve the painful punishment of Almighty Allah.” The al-Qaeda’s high command does realise that its survival in the region is dependent on its ability to forge alliances with the insurgents and other militant groups.
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