Five gen next Qaeda leaders identified

WASHINGTON: American counter terrorism experts have identified at least five potential next-generation leaders of al Qaeda, including three with US connections, according to a report.

Experts believe after the death of al Qaeda No 2 Abu Yahya al-Libi in a US drone attack in Pakistan, the terrorist group’s highest councils once again face the daunting task of filling a leadership void and selecting a next-generation jihadist capable of succeeding current leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

“It would be a mistake for anyone to conclude there is no one on the bench,” an anonymous US official familiar with counter-terrorism strategy told NBC.

“It’s a thinning bench, but there are still bad guys, with bad aspirations in al Qaeda’s core group in Pakistan,” the official added.

According to The New York Post, the five potential next-generation leaders identified by the officials include Adnan Gulshair el Shukrijumah, a 36-year-old Saudi who reportedly is director of operations for al Qaeda who spent his teenage years in Brooklyn and Florida. He was reportedly involved in a 2009 plot to bomb the New York City subway.

The second potential successor is Jaber A El-Baneh, a 45-year-old Yemeni who lived for a time in Buffalo, and was viewed as the mastermind of the Lackawanna Six plot in 2003.

Other three potential leaders are Adam Gadahn, a 33-year-old American and al Qaeda strategist, Sheikh Khalid Abdur Rahman al-Hussainan, a 45-year-old Kuwaiti who is a cleric and teacher, and Ali Sayyid Muhamed Mustafa al-Bakri, a 46-year-old Egyptian with explosives and chemical weapons expertise.

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