If until this point there are more questions than answers regarding Bin Laden's physical condition and the transfer of leadership and change of strategy of the 'Qaedat Al Jihad' organization, a psycho-strategic analysis focusing on the leader and his deputy, will reveal many vital details that will help to better understand the situation. In order to reach these details, close to 80 audio and video recordings of Bin Laden and Zawahiri were analyzed using structural and functional techniques going back to the September 11th attacks until the present. The Tape Offensive The first video recording to be released after the September attackse documents the celebration of the formation of 'Qaedat Al Jihad' and from this recording we can assume that the intention of the organization's leadership was to attribute the attacks to the forming organization known as "Qaedat Al Jihad" and not to "Al Qaeda" in its previous incarnation. Between 2001 and 2007 more than 100 tapes were broadcast on behalf of the 'Qaedat Al Jihad' organization. Some of these were broadcast by Arabic networks such as Al Jazeera (Qatar) and Al Arabiya (United Arab Emirates), some were broadcast by Muslim internet sites, and a small number were broadcast exclusively by western communications networks. The material analyzed in this study is comprised of 72 authenticated audio and video recordings of Bin Laden and Zawahirif: Chart A: Number of Recordings Distributed from 2001 to 2007 Looking at Chart A, we note a small but continuous rise in the number of tapes issued by Bin Laden (except for the year 2005) while there is a sharp increase in the number of tapes by Zawahiri each following year. A deeper analysis of the chart and its data will reveal some significant details: 2001 – Psychological Warfare – the two months between the September 11th attacks and the end of 2001 were marked by psychological warfare against the Americans.g The "Bin Laden Tapes" broadcast during this period dealt with the attacks and the Americans' inability to win the religious war being waged against them.h 2002 – 2003 – "Second Among Equals" – 2002 is characterized by the small number of recordings issued, apparently as a result of the ongoing search for the organization's leaders. This year, Zawahiri issued a video tape, his first since the September 11th attacks.i In 2003j, Zawahiri appeared in one solo tape and in one other tape together with Bin Laden. In comparison, Bin Laden appeared in three tapes in which he continued to attack the United States and its allies and called out to Muslims to rebel against occupying forces and banish them. The pattern characterizing this period is that of a leader and his deputy. Although Zawahiri is a full fledged partner in 'Qaedat Al Jihad', he can be described as "the second among equals". His declarations are generally similar to those of Bin Laden and in most cases will appear pursuant to a Bin Laden tape.k 2004 – The Lead Changes – From a quick look at the chart it may be argued that there is a slight change in leadership with regards to the number of tapes "in favor of" Zawahiri,l but even in this year we see the pattern of respect for "The Emir". Bin Laden's tape started the year off, the Zawahiri tapes almost always appeared after a 'Bin Laden tape' and a 'Bin Laden tape' was issued at the close of 2004m. We can only assume that the reason Bin Laden released less tapes is somehow connected with the plethora of (alleged) evidence of him being seriously ill. 2005 – Alone in the Ring, Retaining Respect – 2005 was characterized by a relatively large number of 'Zawahiri tapes' but not even one 'Bin Laden tape' was broadcast. In spite of this, Zawahiri continued to declare his great respect for Bin Laden and his methods.n Here to we can only assume that Bin Laden's physical condition prevented him from appearing on new video tapes (and even on audio tapes). A part of his campaign to retain respect, on the tape released at the end of the year, Zawahiri announced “Bin Laden is still the commander of the Jihad…”, but one should take note of the rest of that sentence “…but the Jihad is greater than individuals”, which may refer to Bin Laden’s ill state and intended to prepare the public for his aftermath.o 2006 – A Plethora of Tapes and Back to the Ring– the year 2006 was characterized by a large number of 'Zawahiri tapes' and the renewed appearance of “Bin Laden tapes” after more than a year of silence. On the one hand, one could surmise that Bin Laden’s condition has improved and he was once again disseminating his thoughts, but on the other hand all of the tapes issued this year were audio tapes, perhaps to avoid revealing Bin Laden’s real condition.p 2007 – Zawahiri, the World and the Fountain of Youth Tape – in this year Zawahiri in his tapes refers to many diverse matters, and the author of this study is of the opinion that it can be said that Zawahiri was trying to consciously establish his doctrines. In September of this year, a Bin Laden video tape appears for the first time in three years.  In this strange tape Bin Laden hardly moves at all and in most of the frames he appears completely “frozen”. In the tape, Bin Laden has a full, black beard completely different from the thin, grey beard he had previously. It is possible that this is an attempt on the part of the organization's leadership to refute the rumors of Bin Laden’s death\serious illness (typhus) to which he had fallen prey and to show his good health. The other tapes he released in this year are all audio tapes and, surprisingly (or not), Bin Laden repeats Zawahiri’s past and present mantras. Bin Laden speaks of unifying the factions in Iraq as Zawahiri stated in his tapes at the end of 2006 and in another tape calls on the Pakistanis to remove Musharraf, as did Zawahiri in many of his tapes. Zawahiri’s tape opens the year and Bin Laden’s tape is broadcast two days before the end of the year; in that tape Bin Laden refers to the American control over the Iraqi government and the need to join the Jihad against Israel, similar, once again, to Zawahiri.q We may assume that these tapes were intended to reinforce Zawahiri’s status and opinions in the event that Bin Laden’s health is critical. The Transfer of Power “de facto” The tape broadcasts can be divided into three different periods. The first, between 2001 and 2003; the second during the year 2004; and the third between the years 2005-2007. The pie charts below clearly show that, during the first period, Bin Laden tapes dominated whilst the number of “Zawahiri tapes” was equal to the number of joint tapes. The second period (2004) marked a change in which for the first time the number of Zawahiri tapes was greater than that of Bin Laden tapes. During the third period, 'Zawahiri tapes' comprised almost 80% of the total number of tapes, a fact that together with the foregoing analysis of the tapes, evidences Zawahiri’s takeover in fact of the 'Qaedat Al Jihad' leadership in the wake of Bin Laden’s disappearance from the decision-making arena. Chart B: Number of tapes issued as a percentage (2001-2003)
Chart C: Number of tapes issued as a percentage (2005-2007)
It is this writer’s opinion that the pattern of tapes issued during 2001 to 2007 reinforces the evidence (in itself weak) of Bin Laden’s poor health. This pattern, together with Bin Laden’s character and the his manner of self-empowerment, shows us that Bin Laden felt it was time for him to take steps toward ensuring Zawahiri’s succession to leadership in the foreseeable future. 2008 – The Leadership Hand-Over Continues – A survey of the pattern of tapes broadcast in the first half of this year, reinforces the conclusion regarding the transfer of leadership taking place in the organization. Until the middle of 2008, 6 'Zawahiri tapes' and 4 'Bin Laden' tapes were broadcast. A 'Zawahiri tape' opened the year, and Zawahiri even serves as the official representative of the organization in providing answers to questions sent via e-mail with respect to the organization's future r, in an audio tape  one and a half hours long (and in writing). It is interesting to note that in this tape Zawahiri answered and said that following the pull out of American forces from Iraq, the Jihadic influence will move over to Israel. In addition relating directly for the first time to Bin Laden's physical condition, Zawahiri argued that Bin Laden is healthy and feels good.
Recommendations • In light of the leadership transition under discussion, the major part of our intelligence and operational efforts should be directed toward Ayman Al Zawahiri and the leadership circle supporting him. • If it is possible to arrest Zawahiri and put him on trial/attack him, then Al A’adal should be treated in a similar fashion. Although it is possible to assume that the organization will split into its component parts following the departure of Bin Laden and Zawahiri, a move of the stable leadership of the organization into Iranian hands would be worse than continuing with Zawahiri as leader. • We need to invest most of our efforts in creating conflict between 'Qaedat Al Jihad' and Iran (either through a religious quarrel or some other means). This type of conflict would harm not only the organization but also Iranian interests.
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