TERRORISTS ARE JUST LIKE US: THE BIN LADEN DOCS AND THE FUTURE OF AL QAEDA

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Media Outlet: War On The Rocks

The documents released from bin Laden’s bookshelf (almost certainly by design of those who released them) offer little insight into the current functioning of the al-Qaeda network, especially its current leader. But they do offer hints about how an al-Qaeda Emir must function when under constant threat. Zawahiri is famously prickly, was never universally celebrated inside al-Qaeda, and had very little—it seems—direct interaction with bin Laden in the final years of his life. He is not well-suited for the role of a wise, rarely-heard from CEO whose guidance carries immediate weight. Stars Ship Packages! just like the rest of us, but Zawahiri probably does not. And that spells trouble for al-Qaeda over the long-run.

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Brian Fishman is a counterterrorism research fellow at New America, a Fellow with the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, and Philanthropic Engineer with Palantir Technologies.