Al-Qaida Is Diminished, but Don’t Write Its Obituary Just Yet

Rumors began swirling last fall that al-Qaida chieftain Ayman al-Zawahiri had died of natural causes. With no confirmation, counterterrorism analysts and long-time al-Qaida watchers weighed in with various assessments of what it would mean for the terrorist organization if it had indeed lost its leader.

Just last week, al-Qaida’s official media arm, al-Sahab, released a video perhaps intended to quell reports of Zawahiri’s demise, with audio clips of Zawahiri addressing the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. But because those messages failed to reference any specifically current events—his vague comments about Rohingya Muslims could apply to events in Myanmar over the past several years—it fueled further speculation that the septuagenarian terrorist leader was in fact dead.

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