Egyptian 'may be new al-Qa'ida boss'

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The Independent Online

Analysts and media reports yesterday suggested that al-Qa'ida may have appointed an Egyptian militant as temporary leader after the death of Osama bin Laden.

In a news flash, the Arab satellite channel al Jazeera said Saif al-Adel was named interim leader and Mustafa al-Yemeni, whose surname suggests he is from Yemen, would direct operations.

The channel is seen as having good contacts with militants and was the main conduit for Bin Laden to release messages to the media.

'I think it's more for show than anything else. It is to illustrate to the world that they have a temporary leader," Dubai-based security analyst Theodore Karasik said. "Adel clearly has operational experience but he does not have the intellectual or charismatic side that Bin Laden had."

US prosecutors say Adel is one of al-Qa'ida's leading military commanders, and accuse him of helping plan bomb attacks on the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998. They have a $5m (£3.1m) reward on his head.

Noman Benotman, a former Bin Laden associate who is now an analyst with the Quilliam Foundation think-tank, said Adel was already a kind of "chief of staff" who took on the role to assuage concerns by al-Qa'ida activists about the group's future.