Leading article: A promotion that gives no comfort

Share
Related Topics

The man who has taken over from Osama bin Laden as head of al-Qa'ida is said to lack the charisma of the terrorist leader the Americans killed six weeks ago. But few believe that he will be less deadly. Ayman al-Zawahiri, a former ophthalmologist, is credited with being the man who lifted Bin Laden's eyes from the local to the global in the days when the chief complaint of the violent jihadist was that US troops were trampling their infidel boots on the Saudi soil which is home to Islam's holiest places. Zawahiri alerted him to a whole range of Muslim grievances – from Kashmir to Palestine – and set up with him the World Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders. Some say he was also the operational brains behind 9/11.

The West can take some comfort that it has taken so long for al-Qa'ida to announce the succession, despite the fact that Zawahiri was Bin Laden's deputy. The delay may suggest divisions at the top of the terrorist organisation. But al-Qa'ida's new leader is a formidable figure. His declared long-term aim is to topple Muslim regimes which collaborate with America, and what is now going on in Pakistan provides chill evidence of his approach.

The country is clearly divided in its attitude to terrorism. That is clear from Pakistan's recent arrest of five men suspected of having aided the United States in the raid that killed Bin Laden. For it shows the clear need of the Pakistani authorities to appease a significant anti-American constituency within its population.

Last week Zawahiri warned that Bin Laden would continue to terrify the US from beyond the grave. What is happening in Pakistan shows how al-Qa'ida intends to do that. The West needs be shrewd here. Cutting the number of aid projects the US funds in Pakistan by two thirds may play well in America, but Washington has a tightrope to walk. Drifting toward a more contentious or fractured relationship with Pakistan plays into al-Qa'ida's strategic plan and risks allowing nuclear weapons to fall into terrorist hands. The West needs to rebuild its intelligence and military relationship with Pakistan. To jeopardise that risks allowing Zawahiri his first victory.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A pack of seagulls squabble over discarded food left on the beach at St Ives on July 28, 2015  

Number of urban seagulls in Britain nearly quadruples: Hide food and avoid chicks to stay in gulls’ good books

Tom Bawden
 

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen