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History As It Happens

Aug 30, 2022

The man who succeeded Osama bin Laden at the top of al-Qaeda, the Egyptian jihadist Ayman al-Zawahiri, was not a driving force or key planner in the group's early days, despite reports that made him out to be the brains behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That is according to Peter Bergen, an expert on international terrorism at New America and one of a handful of Western journalists who interviewed bin Laden. In this episode, Bergen discusses the assassination of al-Zawahiri by a U.S. drone; the future of al-Qaeda after 21 years of global war; whether the wave of Islamic fundamentalism that swept the Muslim world in the 1970s is waning; and Afghanistan one year after the U.S. completed its withdrawal. Men like bin Laden and al-Zawahiri wanted to change the world, but they reaped the whirlwind from their indiscriminate ferocity and violent fanaticism.