On May 1st 2001, an American commando force eliminated Al-Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden, in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A few days later, after an official announcement on behalf of the organization’s general leadership, Al-Qaeda affiliates worldwide published official announcements containing eulogies over his death and praises for his path, alongside general calls for retribution. In total, 18 official announcements by global Jihad organizations and leaders were published on Jihadist forums and the internet, in addition to the announcements made by media institutes of global Jihad organizations, the Jihadist forums and prominent writers on these forums. A month and a half following the assassination, on June 16th 2011, the Jihadist forums published an official announcement on behalf of “Qaidat Al-Jihad – the General Leadership”, officially proclaiming Ayman Al-Zawahiri as Al-Qaeda’s leader, replacing Bin Laden. The message itself was published without a specific date and without detailing the names of the leadership’s members (see more details on the message later on in the document).
The Jihadi Monitoring Group (JWMG) is a specialized research and analysis team at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT). Composed of researchers fluent in Arabic, the JWMG monitors websites that support and serve the Global Jihad organizations. The unique characteristic of JWMG publications is the team's integration of diverse materials from a wide variety of Arabic sources. JWMG connects each source to larger trends, providing a complete understanding of events on both a local and a global scale.