New Delhi: After the death of Osama bin laden there was disruption in the centralised command and control arrangements of Al-Qaeda but only for a while. Whether this has affected its ability to attack targets, plan and launch catastrophic terrorist strikes in far way places like the US is uncertain.
However, its affiliates like the Taliban’s of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Haqqani Network of Afghanistan, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) of Pakistan, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), based in Yemen; al Qaeda based in Algeria and Mali; al Shabaab of Somalia; and Boko Haram, of Nigeria have maintained their capability for terrorist attacks that can cause large casualties in the targeted countries.
Al-Qaeda has started splintered into semi independent groups in the life time of bin Laden; Al-Zawahiri who is now the leader, is a terrorist in his own rights and was suspected to be involved in the massacre of 67 foreign tourists in Luxor. Moreover, he was an accused in connection of the bombings of embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. He now oversees a loosely organised net work of cells of Al Qaeda spread in various corners of the globe.
Although its core structure is now decentralised and small, Al-Qaeda is still capable of recruiting thousands of volunteers from various countries but presently each entity functions independently and their missions are not known to each other Al-Qaeda is not dependent on any one country for its operations, it operates as a provider of financial and logistical support to various terrorist groups affiliated with it all over the world.
It continues planning and helping of terrorist attacks with its affiliates, as proved by its involvement in Bali, Madrid London and Mumbai attacks. It is operating many terrorists’ outfits in Iraq and several countries of Africa, many American experts believe it is still capable of catastrophic attacks on European and US targets because of close ties with the Pakistani militant groups.
The affiliates of Al Qaeda continue to train for multi-target operations that they had adopted before bin Laden’s demise. This was evident from the recent commando operations mounted on several targets in Afghanistan using the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. Terrorist attacks carried out during the last one year by affiliates of Al Qaeda in many parts of the world show their continuing commitment to their mission and ability to carry out their missions on selected targets regardless of change in leadership. However, they had no great success against the US recently and most attacks were foiled.
It seems the death of Osama has not weakened the ability of Al-Qaeda, but it has affected its appeal for recruiting new adherents because of lack of a charismatic leader. According some western sources there has been a setback in their ability to get suitable recruits and this has adversely affected their capability to launch global attacks of spectacular dimensions.
There are no definite indications that after the death of Osama there has been a decline in the flow of funds to Al Qaeda from Islamic charity organisations around the Muslim world and many rich donors. Large sums of money still continue to flow into its coffers from narcotics smuggling in various parts of the world.
The weakening of Al Qaeda as reported by some western intelligent agencies as a global terrorist organization have remained unconfirmed, the pause in their activities should not lead us to believe that the ability of Al-Qaeda to launch a catastrophic attack of terrorism has finally been curbed are is any less now. The danger of more lethal attacks will remain till the global intelligence agencies are unable to identify the senior operatives of Al Qaeda who have been trained and positioned in sleeper cells in various parts of the globe.
The central command and control of Al Qaeda has been splintered and it is under pressure from US intelligence agencies, but its global network of sleeper cells dispersed in all parts of the globe is well preserved. Its present leadership is capable of rallying and motivating the hardcore to carry on new and more sophisticated methods of attack and the targeted countries may face sporadic attacks.
The last known organisation of Al-Qaeda, for overall coordination operating from Pakistan was:
• An advisory council or inner circle
• Sharia or political committee responsible for issuing fatwas and dealing with religious affairs
• Military committee for conceptualisation and planning of operations:
Also responsible for running training camps
• Finance committee: fund raising and concealment of assets
• Foreign purchase committee: acquisition of arms and supplies
• Security committee: physical protection, intelligence and counter intelligence
• Information committee: in charge of propaganda As long as Al Qaeda’s organisation for operations and its global network is not finally eliminated from Pakistan dangers of nuclear terrorism, involving weapons of mass destruction will continue in our region.
International co-operation and special intelligence networks may have to be created to ensure long term physical security of Pakistani nuclear weapons and facilities, but this can only happen if Pakistani army cooperates with global agencies.