Saif Al-Adel could be more dangerous than Osama
A former Egyptian Special Forces officer and an extensively trained and experienced military strategist, Saif Al-Adel, the alleged newly appointed interim chief of Al-Qaeda could prove to be more dangerous than Osama Bin Laden. More than a mere surprise, his appointment as Al-Qaeda's 'caretaker' has great strategic implications.
Ever since the death of Bin Laden, his second-in-command Ayman Al-Zawahiri was expected to take over the reigns from him. However, the Al-Qaeda top brass has opted for relatively younger Al-Adel instead of the ageing Al-Zawahiri. There are reasons to believe that the terrorist organisation is looking up to the charismatic military operative to set the house in order during one of its most difficult times.
Without doubt, Al-Adel is a reputed figure for Islamic militants all over the world. Affiliated with the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), the seasoned operational planner is wanted by the FBI in connection with the August 7, 1998 bombings of the U.S embassies in countries like Tanzania and Kenya. He was also reportedly with Bin Laden in Afghanistan prior to 9/11.
Known by the pseudonym 'Sword of Justice', Saif Al-Adel has a bounty of $5 million on his head. Reports suggest that he disappeared from Egypt after the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated during the annual victory parade held in Cairo on 6 October 1981. It is believed that, after playing his hand in the assassination, he moved on to Afghanistan and subsequently joined Al-Qaeda during this time. His formal military training expertise soon helped him secure a high ranking position in the terrorist organisation.
As revealed by Noman Benotman, a former Islamic militant, ''With someone like Saif al-Adel, you don't need him to be active himself. What he has in his head is enough''. This is evident from the impact of the terror attacks he organised in Saudi Arabia while still being in house arrest in Iran.
Although there are experts who feel Saif Al-Adel's rise to the top may not be pleasing for the Al-Qaeda factions in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, this can eventually prove to be a greater threat. Sources reveal that the interim chief epitomises pragmatism and that he simply does not care about ideological differences within the organisation.
While he will be keen to launch himself as the pivotal point within Al-Qaeda, it won't be surprising if his military acumen will contemplate on possible collaborations.