Cover Story Overview

Bin Ladin’s Killing and its Effect on Al-Qa`ida: What Comes Next?

By Bruce Hoffman

Confronted with the sudden death of a leader, terrorist groups become cornered animals. When wounded, they lash out. Not only in hopes of surviving, but also to demonstrate their remaining power and continued relevance. Al-Qa`ida is no different. Al-Qa`ida will thus keen for its leader by killing. It will not necessarily attack soon. Yet the United States should brace itself once the 40-day mourning period that some Muslims observe ends. The dual prospect of punishing the United States and re-igniting fear and anxiety following a time of celebration and relief must surely figure prominently in al-Qa`ida’s calculus.

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