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WATCH: Is al-Qaeda still relevant in 2022?

Osama bin Laden, left, sits with his adviser Ayman al-Zawahiri during an interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir. Picture: Dawn newspaper

Osama bin Laden, left, sits with his adviser Ayman al-Zawahiri during an interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir. Picture: Dawn newspaper

Published Aug 4, 2022

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Cape Town – On Monday, US President Joe Biden announced that the CIA killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri in Kabul, Afghanistan at the weekend, however, is al-Qaeda still relevant now in 2022?

The organisation was formed in the 1980s as a multinational militant network founded by Osama bin Laden along with Arab volunteers who fought during the Soviet-Afghan War.

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Al-Qaeda was seen as the number one security threat in the West with a series of attacks with the most notable one being the 2001 September 11 (9/11) attack when representatives hijacked US airliners mid-flight and crashed them into the Yew York World Trade Centre buildings.

According to the BBC, around 3 000 people died that day, which went down as the worst terrorist attack ever on mainland America.

Reports suggest the 9/11 attacks were plotted in the hills of Afghanistan which led to the controversial US-led “war on terror” and subsequently a 20-year occupation in Afghanistan.

Nearly a decade after the attack, the US tracked down and killed al-Qaeda leader Bin Laden in Afghanistan.

Fast forward another 10 years, US officials managed to track down Bin Laden’s replacement al-Zawahiri, whom they killed using a drone strike.

WHAT NEXT?

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Historically al-Qaeda was a tight-knit network but reports suggest it has now become a global franchise with followers at various parts of the world in poorly governed regions.

Somalia’s al-Shabaab have been linked al-Qaeda militants who have been fighting for years to topple the central government. Meanwhile, the group also maintains a significant presence in north-west Syria.

Now, will the assassination of al-Zawahiri have an impact on the group, or is it business as usual?

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According to research by Al Jazeera, the organisation has put the necessary tools in place for an instance like this, so as to ensure al-Qaeda survives al-Zawahiri’s death.

While the drone attack may have been a win for the US, meanwhile, al-Zawahiri will be easily replaced by another with a managerial mindset and likely more charismatic.

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