"Dr." Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al Qaeda No.2, may have been killed by a US air strike in Pakistan. The forensic tests on the remains will be finished in a few days. But what if he is dead? Bin Laden himself has not been seen -- even on video -- for a year. Rumors of his death are usually tied to kidney disease. And his disease is probably an urban legend. If bin Laden is dead, it is probably for other reasons. If Zawahiri is dead, al Qaeda has lost its most visible presence on the world stage. But has it lost more important assets to other American efforts? Remember the letter Zawahiri sent to Zarqawi in Iraq last summer? In which Zawahiri asked his subordinate for a coupla hundred grand to keep the old school colors flying? Al-Q is now little more than a franchise operation. If Zawahiri is dead, it may have lost more than its operational commander. Most importantly, it may have lost the ability to conceal bin Laden. If Zawahiri is dead, and bin Laden still alive, OBL will have to risk making videos and communicating with his operators and franchises by courier and otherwise. And the more often he communicates, by any means whatever, the more likely we are to get him.
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