Scott Shane of the New York Times discusses the future of Al Qaeda in the wake of Osama Bin Laden’s death. Bin Laden has been synonymous with the terrorist organization since its founding, so this is the first succession crisis that the organization has faced. Shane reports that early propaganda efforts by Al Qaeda indicate that the succession has not gone smoothly. There is no obvious strong candidate to take on Bin Laden’s role, and heavy pressure by the CIA on Al Qaeda operatives makes it especially difficult for anyone to claim his leadership mantle.
In the meantime, Al Qaeda is encouraging individual acts of terrorism from its members. While the threat of such acts remains a real and serious national security threat to the United States, the loss of Bin Laden’s “long-term planning and vision” is likely to limit the potential damage that Al Qaeda can cause. It seems that Bin Laden’s death was much more than just a symbolic victory for the US in the War on Terror.