Sure we can use the blanket term “al-Qaeda” as we always have, but it doesn’t hold the same meaning as it did in the years following the 9/11 attacks. The organization is a smoldering shell of what it once was and many of the household names we familiarize with have been intricately introduced to the CIA’s incredibly successful drone program.
In this three-part series, I’m going to give you an insight glimpse of the three main al-Qaeda organizations: the original al-Qaeda group, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and the emerging underdogs al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
To all members of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and al-Shabaab who feel left out or underrepresented; you guys are just too weak sauce for me to bother with.
al-Qaeda, the Head Office (centered in and around Pakistan)
This is the core organization that bin Laden created back in the late 80′s, an organization that is in shambles as UBL and most of his senior commanders have been systematically wiped off the face of the Earth at the hands of the CIA and JSOC. The current leader of al-Qaeda is the long-time serving second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was put in charge of AQ shortly after bin Laden’s demise in Abbottabad in May of 2011.
I created this diagram back in October of 2011 as a reference to who is left in-charge of the core AQ organization:
It’s been an entire year since I made this diagram as you see it above. Here are some updates on these guys exactly one year later:
Sa’ad bin Laden (left side) was supposedly killed in 2009 by a CIA drone, it was always difficult to confirm. But in September 2012, al-Zawahiri confirmed in a videotape that Sa’ad was indeed killed in 2009 via drone strike.
Abu Yahya al-Libi (the gangster in the bottom right) was confirmed killed on June 5, 2012 courtesy of the CIA. Rumor has it he was Zawahiri’s second in command at the time.
Al Qaeda spokesperson Sulaiman Abu Ghaith is still out there and AQ Theologian Mahfouz al-Walid was released from a Mauritanian prison in July of 2012.
The US Citizen, Adam Gadahn, is also alive and kicking and most recently appeared in a September 2012 video recording commemorating the 9/11 anniversary.
Saif al-Adel has been able to consistently evade from all the hunter-killers out there for many years now. I wouldn’t bet any money on him checking out anytime soon.
As of June 22, 2012, it is believed that only about eight hard-core Al Qaeda leaders are left in the Afghan-Pakistani border regions.
Next up in Part II we will focus on a more serious threat (in my opinion): al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP.