Ayman al-Zawahri new head of al-Qaeda

American counterterrorism officials all but welcomed the announcement on Thursday that Ayman al-Zawahri would succeed Osama bin Laden as leader of Al Qaeda, arguing that his deep flaws are likely to weaken the core of the terrorist network.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Bin Laden “had a peculiar charisma that I think Zawahri does not have.” He also said there was evidence that Bin Laden had been more “operationally engaged” than Mr. Zawahri, and that Mr. Zawahri’s Egyptian roots and focus limited his appeal to militants from other countries.

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