Bin Laden may be the head of al Qaeda, but without his lieutenants and mid-level managers who have been killed or captured, he is ineffective. He has no control over strategy. The low-level groups claiming allegiance are simply lashing out, flailing about, with no direction.
Of the two, Zawahiri and bin Laden, Zawahiri advocates for attacks in the muslim world proper, specifically in the Middle East. Zarkawi, though not in constant direct contact, does have intermittent correspondence with Zawahiri and is spreading out from Iraq (where he is losing, though still causing death and destruction) to other areas in the Levant.
Bin Laden, on the other hand, wants the West attacked.
When Osama gets the word that thousands of Jordanians (backed by Islamist groups, no less!) protested against Zarqawi and called for him to burn in hell, he will throw up his hands and scream 'NO!'. Zarqawi is turning muslims against us. We must go back to attacking the West!
And he will issue a proclamation, some kind of message, for Zarqawi's ears.
The period since just before the November election in 2004 is the longest bin Laden has ever remained silent. I think the 'record' before now was eleven months.
Depending on how long it takes to get his message out, I predict we will be hearing from bin Laden soon! He will try desparately to get back some control.
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