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Al-Zawahiri's Legacy, Part 1: How the U.S. Became al Qaeda's Top Enemy

MIN READAug 10, 2022 | 20:24 GMT

Ayman al-Zawahiri is seen on a television screen during a broadcast report. 

Ayman al-Zawahiri is seen on a television screen during a broadcast report. 

(Maher Attar/Sygma via Getty Images)

More than a week after the announced killing of al Qaeda's emir Ayman al-Zawahiri, much ink has been spilled on the state of the group and its likely next leader. While important questions, much less attention has been given to al-Zawahiri's key ideological contribution to al Qaeda's global brand and whether his vision for the group -- and jihadist ideology more generally -- will survive. Just as much as his deceased predecessor Osama bin Laden, al-Zawahiri helped mold al Qaeda into the most notorious global terrorist group of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, largely because of his advocacy for taking the fight from the Islamic world directly to the streets of the West. But al-Zawahiri is widely considered to have faded from operational prominence long ago and al Qaeda itself had in recent years turned away from this strategy, seemingly both by choice and by way of Western...

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