A veteran Egyptian jihadi is effectively serving as the caretaker leader of al-Qaeda while it adjusts to the assassination of Osama bin Laden, it has been claimed.
Saif al-Adel is operating as the interim head of the terrorist organisation while a permanent replacement for bin Laden is found, according to Noman Benotman, an expert on the group.
Mr Benotman, a former associate of bin Laden who now works for Quilliam, the British anti-extremist think-tank, said information about the restructure had been passed to him by jihadist contacts. "He is in charge in operational and military terms," Mr Benotman told. “This has happened in response to the impatience displayed by jihadists online who have been extremely worried about the delay in announcing a successor."
Mr Benotman said that Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Ladens’ longtime deputy, was using the hiatus to gather declarations of loyalty from key al Qaeda lieutenants.
"It is hoped that now they will calm down,” he said. “It also paves the way for Zawahri to take over."
Al-Adel helped to plan the al-Qaeda bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998, according to American authorities, and helped set up jihadist training camps in Afghanistan.