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Friday, June 17, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Al Qaida's new chief Zawahiri 'will continue
the jihad against U.S., Israel'

ABU DHABI — A former Egyptian Army officer has been appointed the new commander of Al Qaida.


Al Qaida announced that Ayman Zawahiri was appointed commander of the global insurgency network. Zawahiri succeeded Osama bin Laden, founder of Al Qaida and killed by the United States in May.

"Al Qaida announces that sheik Dr. Ayman Al Zawahri, may God guide him, assumed responsibility as the group's leader," Al Qaida said on June 16.

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The Al Qaida announcement, posted on Web sites, said Zawahiri would continue the war against the West and its Muslim allies, Middle East Newsline reported. The group cited the Islamic insurgencies in Afghanistan, Iraq and North Africa.

"We encourage the people of Islam to rise up and continue the struggle, persistence and devotion until all the corrupt and oppressive regimes imposed by the West are gone," Al Qaida said.

Zawahiri, who turns 60 on June 19, has been Al Qaida's No. 2 figure for about 15 years. A physician by profession, Zawahiri served as an officer in the Egyptian Army before he fled the country amid a crackdown on the Islamic opposition.

"Al Qaida will continue the jihad against the United States and Israel," Zawahiri said.

The United States has determined that Al Qaida could be planning to assassinate prominent Americans as well as senior officials. The FBI has notified these individuals that their names had been posted on at least one Al Qaida-aligned website as future targets.

Western intelligence analysts said Zawahiri could increase Al Qaida resources in destabilizing the Levant and North Africa. Under bin Laden, a Saudi national, Al Qaida focused on such countries as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.

"Today, praise God, America is not facing an individual, a group or a faction," Zawahiri said. "It is facing a nation than is in revolt, having risen from its lethargy to a renaissance of jihad."

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