Tags: Ayman al-Zawahri | osama bin laden | fbi | michael hayden | arthur cummings

Death of bin Laden Devastating to al-Qaida

By Ronald Kessler   |   Monday, 02 May 2011 12:30 PM

By killing Osama bin Laden, the “godfather” of al-Qaida, American forces have left the terrorist organization with no leader, jeopardizing its viability, Arthur “Art” Cummings II, the former chief of FBI counterterrorism, tells Newsmax.

“I don’t think there is any charismatic leader to replace Osama bin Laden,” says Cummings, who until last year was the FBI’s executive assistant director in charge of national security investigations. “In the long term, this could really degrade the future of the organization.”

Ayman al-Zawahri, osama bin laden, fbi, michael hayden, arthur cummings,
Osama bin Laden

Bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, is not widely respected within the organization and lacks bin Laden’s charisma, Cummings says.

“People say they are going to retaliate for the killing of bin Laden,” Cummings says. “When did they slow down? They have a lot to prove to show they are still a force and a movement. In the short term, there will be some increased risk. In the long term, there is no natural successor. This movement is not self-sustaining.”

While bin Laden was largely isolated, he could still communicate through couriers, Cummings says. “They took so many precautions,” he says. “They stopped using electronics. Now what? Are they going to stop using couriers? This will push them into a rabbit hole. They are in a box — hard.”

In the end, CIA intelligence-tracking couriers and clues from interrogation of Guantanamo Bay detainees led to bin Laden. Navy SEALS attached to the CIA did the rest.

“We have been focused on couriers for some time,” former CIA Director Michael Hayden tells Newsmax. “This is a big deal; however, it’s a network, not a hierarchy. The franchises have grown in importance, as opposed to al-Qaida main. It’s an important victory, but it doesn’t mean it’s over.”

The success is a tribute to the men and woman of the CIA, the military, and the FBI, which have been risking their lives fighting al-Qaida ever since 9/11. It is a tribute to both presidents Obama and Bush, who vowed to bring down bin Laden “dead or alive.”

As noted in my story “Obama Follows Bush’s Lead in War on Terror,” Obama has adopted virtually all of the policies developed by Bush to attack terrorism and bring the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack to justice.

The killing of bin Laden is a devastating blow to al-Qaida and a psychological boost for the United States. The idea that terrorists could kill nearly 3,000 Americans and take down the World Trade Center was previously unthinkable. The fact that bin Laden eluded American forces for nearly 10 years was further evidence of American impotence.

All contributed to a malaise that undermined Americans’ confidence in the future. Now that pall is lifted, sparking a renaissance in American pride.

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail. Go here now.

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