Al Qaeda’s Leader Is Old, Bumbling—and a Terrorist Mastermind

Nineteen years after 9/11, al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has yet to achieve the household notoriety evoked by his immediate predecessor, Osama bin Laden. In part that’s because the United States hasn’t cared enough to focus attention on him. Aside from massive financial overtures for intelligence on his whereabouts—there’s currently a $25 million bounty offered for his head, higher than the reward for any other terrorist in the world—the U.S. government has been relatively blasé about al Qaeda since Zawahiri took over in 2011. Some terrorism analysts even claim a living Zawahiri has done more harm to al Qaeda than a dead one ever could.

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