U.N. experts say the predominant view among member nations is that the leadership of al-Qaida has passed to Sayf al-’Adl, who was responsible for Osama bin Laden’s security and trained some of the hijackers involved in the 9/11 attack on the U.S.
The panel of experts said in a report to the U.N. Security Council circulated Monday that no announcement has been made of Sayf al-’Adl replacing Ayman al-Zawahri, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Kabul last August.
“But in discussions in November and December many U.N. member states took the view that Sayf al-’Adl is already operating as the de facto and uncontested leader of the group,” the report says.
Assessments vary as to why al-’Adl’s leadership hasn’t been declared, it said.
Some countries feel that al-Zawahri’s presence in Kabul embarrassed the country’s Taliban rulers who are seeking legitimacy “and that al-Qaida chose not to exacerbate this by acknowledging the death,” the experts said.
“However, most judged a key factor to be the continued presence of Sayf al-’Adl in the Islamic Republic of Iran (which) raised difficult theological and operational questions for al-Qaida,” they said.
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