The succession of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was killed in a US drone strike in Kabul on July 31, remains unclear, according to a US intelligence official, reported Reuters.
To a question on the Al Qaeda’s ‘centre of gravity’ after Zawahiri’s death, Christine Abizaid, Director of the US National Counterterrorism Centre on Tuesday said, “The question for Al Qaeda, that it has not answered for itself, is who follows (Zawahiri)”, in an event organised by the Washington Institute.
A key 9/11 plotter, Zawahiri was reported to be living in Pakistan till the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, probably under the protection of the Pakistani intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), reported European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS).
Meanwhile, the prospect of Pakistani involvement in Zawahiri’s targeting has emerged as a contentious issue, even if neither the US nor Pakistan has publicly acknowledged such a role.
EFSAS, quoting a report by the New York Times, said for many years it was believed that Zawahiri was hiding in the border area of Pakistan and it remains unclear why he returned to Afghanistan. Following the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, it is believed that Zawahiri’s family returned to the safe house in Kabul.
Reports quoting top intelligence sources have also claimed that Zawahiri was being sheltered in Karachi and that sometime after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, he was moved to Kabul through the Chaman border by the Haqqani network.
Over the role of Pakistan in Zawahiri’s killing, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Michael Rubin said he is convinced that Pakistan had a role in Zawahiri’s killing.
He underlined, “Pakistan’s economy is in danger, and the country is in danger of collapse.”