Al Qaeda's New Leader
“In [Ayman al-]Zawahiri's hands, al-Jihad had splintered into angry and homeless gangs. ... His disillusioned followers often reflected on the pronouncement, made during the prison years by the man Zawahiri betrayed, Major Essam al-Qamari, that some vital quality was missing in Zawahiri. Qamari was the one who had told him, 'If you are the member of any group, you cannot be the leader.' that now sounded like a prophecy.”
—from page 246 of Lawrence Wright's much-recommended book, “The Looming Tower,” on one of the low points for Ayman al-Zawahri, the former leader of al-Jihad, and current leader of al-Qaeda. The Christian Science Monitor agrees about his lack of charisma.
This Wright paragraph, by the way, follows a horrific story of Egyptian intelligence drugging and sodomizing the thirteen-year-old son of a senior member of al-Jihad, then blackmailing him to spy on his father, then recruiting another boy, a friend, for the same purpose. When the two boys were discovered, Zawahiri convened a Sharia court, forced the boys to strip to determine if they had attained puberty, and, since they had, and so were officially men, had them convicted of sodomy, treason and attempted murder. “Zawahiri had the boys shot,” Wright writes. “To make sure he got his point across, he videotaped their confessions and their executions, and distributed the tapes as an example to others who might betray the organization.”