New al Qaeda leader is no bin Laden, Gates says 

The new leader of al Qaeda is nothing like Osama bin Laden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.

Egyptian surgeon Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took over the No. 1 spot in the terrorist organization Thursday, is already facing challenges from those within his own ranks, Gates told reporters. 

"Well I'm not sure it's a position anybody should aspire to under the circumstances, but I think he will face some challenges," Gates said. "Bin Laden has been the leader of al Qaeda essentially since its inception...[and he] had a peculiar charisma that I think Zawahiri does not have."

He said bin Laden was more "operationally involved" in the organization than Zawahiri has ever been and that there is "suspicion within al Qaeda because [Zawahiri] is Egyptian."

The move is still a reminder of al Qaeda's enduring threat to U.S. security, he said.

Zawahiri's promotion shows al Qaeda "seeks to perpetuate itself, seeks to find replacements for those who have been killed and remains committed to the agenda that bin Laden put before them," he said.

 

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