Is "the al-Qaeda throne" Empty?

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Below, Michael Young notes today's NYT story about the control of central Iraq. Another reaction to that account comes from IraqPundit, who writes that such a report "comes as no surprise to Iraqis, who have known all along about the rumors of religious thugs running a now fundamentalist region." Of particular concern are "the Wahhabi outsiders who are reportedly in control of the Anbar province."

But here's the most provocative passage. Citing Iraq's leading newspaper, Azzaman, IraqPundit reports that these religious thugs "are having their own internal struggles. Azzaman reports that rifts have developed between Zarqawi and Zawahiri about who gets to be the heir of the al-Qaeda throne. If the report, which quotes Moroccan sources, is true, it might mean they will fight it out in Iraq."

Um, is "the al-Qaeda throne" in need of an heir? Hard to know just what to make of the Azzaman report, especially since we're multiple layers and two languages away from whatever "Moroccan sources" its story is ultimately based on. Nevertheless, reports of internecine rifts between the likes of Zarqawi and Zawahiri are certainly welcome, and this story's worth watching.

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  1. “who gets to be the heir to the Al Qaeda throne” does not, in fact, imply that the throne is empty, but can be just as accurately read as referring to who will be the Big Kahuna once Bin Laden days.

  2. In fact, joe, I would say it implies that bin Laden is alive. If it was who is the rightful owner of the AQ throne, then there’s a power struggle (and the associated) internecine fight. As long as it’s about who is the heir, there will probably be some minor backstabbing, but less infighting than if OBL is gone.

    Darn

  3. Darn?

    I want him captured alive for 2 reasons:

    The pragmatic reason: Information

    The real reason: Televised torture and execution

  4. A cap in his head and then toss his body in a fire. Anything else is too good for him.

  5. these religious thugs “are having their own internal struggles.

    Seriously… the Bush admin really needs to stay on message…

  6. I think joe’s interpretation of the phrase “who gets to be the heir to the Al Qaeda throne” is more correct grammatically (although whether it’s more correct factually is clearly a different matter). On the subject of whether this means bin Laden is dead, recall that last September there was a letter circulated, allegedly from bin Laden, saying that he would die in a martyrdom operation “within 12 months.” (Scroll about 3/4’s down here: http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/09/10/binladen.tape/ ) Assuming the letter was genuine, that would mean he has to die within the next three weeks or so.

  7. Charles Paul Freund says:
    “reports of internecine rifts between the likes of Zarqawi and Zawahiri are certainly welcome”

    Wrong. Think of it as survival of the fittest with the fittest being simply more and more spectacularly ruthless against innocent folks thinking cooperation ought to count for something.
    The clash of “cultures” is becoming the clash of ruthless insanity against peaceful cooperation.
    I don’t like where this is headed as it’s obviously going to get much worse before it gets better.

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