While swift succession of power is crucial to democratic market societies don't be fooled by the length of time it took for the world's most notorious terror syndicate to name a new boss, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official tells me this morning.
Al Qaeda named Egyptian Amman al-Zawahiri as the next leader yesterday of the fractured terrorist organization nearly seven weeks after Seal Team 6 flew into Pakistan aboard (formerly) secret stealthy helicopters piloted by the Night Stalkers and eliminated Osama Bin Laden.
"Zawahiri in his fifth tape on the revolution in Egypt acknowledged for the first time that Al Qaeda's fight with the Americans meant that he could not react quickly to fast-moving events with speeches offering jihadists his enlightened guidance," the career official explained.
"It was a rare admission of weakness and the successful impact of CIA's drones campaign in Pakistan by Al Qaeda's leadership. Zawahiri actually was able to take the reins of Al Qaeda in six weeks -- much more quickly than I would have expected under the circumstances," the official added, agreeing to discuss the terror organization on the condition of anonymity.
The CIA's eye in the sky has been hunting Al Qaeda operatives from Pakistan to Yemen, two countries that have seen a stepped up drone attacks on known operatives in the terrorist organization. Zawahiri is a prime target.
Another Egyptian, Saif al-Adel, was a name that surfaced as a possible replacement for Bin Laden, but many U.S. officials were skeptical about that from the start.