On May 2, 2012, I was curious as to what people’s perceptions were of Ayman al-Zawahiri’s leadership since Bin Laden’s death. In total, 197 people responded to the following question:
Since Usama Bin Laden’s death, has Ayman al-Zawahiri truly taken control of al Qaeda globally – i.e. exhibiting a level of command and control equal to or greater than that of his predecessor Usama Bin Laden?
Here are the results:
- 44 of 197 respondents (22%) selected “Yes” Zawahiri has truly taken control of al Qaeda.
- 153 of 197 respondents (78%) selected “No” Zawahiri has not truly taken control.
Of all the questions analyzed thus far from the “1 Year Post Bin Laden Survey“, respondents across all demographic breakdowns voted in roughly the same pattern with around 20% generally selecting “Yes” Zawahiri is really in charge and roughly 80% consistently selecting “No” Zawahiri is not in charge.
Below is a chart showing the breakdown of votes by raw total across each professional category. Only two categories appeared to be different from the rest.
- 40% of ‘Government Contractors’ selected “Yes” Zawahiri is in control – by far the highest percentage of any professional group.
- 100% of ‘Law Enforcement’ voters (7 total) selected “No” Zawahiri is not in control. Despite being a small sample, cops apparently don’t think Zawahiri is all that.
The below chart shows the breakdown of votes across all demographic categories. Again, an amazing consistency across all breakdowns. Even ‘Social Media’ users were not very bullish on Zawahiri.
In my opinion, I believe Zawahiri doesn’t command al Qaeda to the same level as Bin Laden did. His ability to motivate young men to al Qaeda’s cause and garner donations for al Qaeda operations is limited compared to that of Bin Laden. However, I don’t think Zawahiri should be counted out entirely. I believe those in al Qaeda that once had a true relationship with Zawahiri, having fought with him in Pakistan or worked with him in Egypt, still maintain close ties to the leader and remain loyal to his strategic directives. If I had to guess, these would be the veteran al Qaeda members that came with Zawahiri to Afghanistan, his followers from Egypt and a slice of former LIFG members from the late 1990’s. Essentially, I’d estimate his influence and command resides more in North Africa than in the Arabian Peninsula. I’m working on a way to try and crowdsource where Zawahiri’s influence might still reign within al Qaeda. Stay tuned…