The terms "Al Qa'ida" and variants like "Al Qa'ida-affiliated organizations" is still widely used, even by writers and analysts very critical of the US government's and national-security industry's images of the danger level presented by violent Islamists.
But it's not at all clear to me that even groups that use "Al Qa'ida" as a brand name have much if any meaningful connection to some central organization that is a remnant of Osama bin Laden's organization of that name that staged the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. I sure wish we had better, more confidence-inspiring, critical-minded reporting from mainstream US media outlets that have substantial resources to pursue that kind of story.
Yassin Musharbash reports in Al-Kaidas Chef al-Sawahiri stellt neue Regeln auf Die Zeit 17.09.0213 about a new statement published by Ayman al-Zawahiri, presumed to be the top leader of whatever is left of Bin Laden's original organization. It doesn't sound like there is much of anything new or that offers any insight to any particular conflict or groups directly threatening the United States.
Musharbash notes that even among those with ideological affinities with "al Qa'ida", al-Zawahiri isn't seen as anything like the charismatic figure that Bin Laden once was. Presumably he needs to keep some prestige as encouragement for at least whoever may be helping him hide these days.
A statement from Osama bin Laden in, say, 2002, was obviously significant for whatever clues it might give to the organizations direction. And it was downright weird of the Cheney-Bush Administration to discourage American media from reporting on such statements in any detail.
But what Al-Zawahiri is saying in 2013? I'm not sure it makes much difference to anybody.
Tags: al qaida, terrorism, global war on terror