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Video: New al-Qaida chief challenged to unite organization

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    >>> al qaeda 's long time number two man is now number one. he has succeeded osama bin laden . he's 60 years and his wife and at least two children were killed in u.s. air strikes after 9/11. defense secretary robert gates says he's no staosama bin laden . he lacks the charisma and operational skills of his predecessor he says. roger, when you hear that criticism from gates, is that the truth? how will that affect how the organization functions?

    >> i think that's right, richard. the problem he has is he's not a charismatic leader . he's replacing somebody who was. bin laden was very, very unique in that respect. also zawahri is a bit of jerk. he's personality challenged. every account we read by former jihadists say he's not a likeable person. you compound that with the fact that the arab spring, the revolutions we've seen in the middle east run absolutely counter to al qaeda 's narrative. zawahri has a difficult task in front of him.

    >> because he doesn't have that sort of ability to work with people, will that hurt, then the efficacy of al qaeda going forward?

    >> we need to keep in mind that regardless of who is running al qaeda , the mission remains the same for them. they're still trying to attack the united states and the west. if he's capable of pulling off a significant attack, then we have a different conversation. i think the problem is that there are many groups, many ethnic groups as part of the al qaeda network. there are the czechians, the egyptians, the yemenese, many of whom cast aside their local issues to rally around bin laden because of who bin laden was. it's highly unlikely they will do the same for zawahri , because he's very pa dantic and doctrineaehe. that creates fissures inside the leadership.

    >> talking about it, there were other lieutenants discussed by you and others that could be taking this top spot. ca cashmiri was one of them. will they fall in line behind zawahri ?

    >> that remains to be seen. libya is another individual, so it depends. it depends on zawahri 's ability to keep them together and focused on the main mission. meanwhile, they're all basically running for their lives, because we're continuing to destroy the al qaeda infrastructure inside pakistan through the predator and the repa programs. as a result of that, the zawahri 's ability to, if you will, gather everyone together and put together an agenda for the next operation is a little challenged, given what we're doing to them from the air.

    >> roger, what do you think? with that hit list of 40 americans on it. we have zawahri at number one. the united states , what might we expect in the coming weeks or months or years?

    >> i think you're going to see two things, richard. you'll see al qaeda central, the residual organization, continue to try and mount a credible attack that raises their profile again. certainly they want to try inside the united states . they lack the capability. the second most important thing is that the united states is going to stay on the offense against al qaeda , continuing to destroy their command and control , their leadership, their infrastructure, which makes it much more difficult to mount a credibility operation.

    >> let's end where we started here, roger. you made that contextual statement about the arab spring in al qaeda and how they're running away from each other. does that say al qaeda is fairly insignificant today?

    >> well, i would never say that. what you can say is that al qaeda 's narrative is bankrupt. what we've seen in the middle east over the past six months has demonstrated their way of doing things is absolutely at odds with what is happening inside the middle east . their narrative has failed. can they still put together the type of murderous attack that will raise their profile against the way zawahri and the rest want them to do? over the long term their trend is downward and tough.

    >> roger, great stuff. thank you so much.

    >> you bet.

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