The next Osama

Say hello to the next al-Qaeda commander

He isn’t a household name. Not yet, at least. But Sheikh Abu Yahya al-Libi has certainly caught the attention of counterterrorism experts—not to mention the next generation of wannabe jihadis. Young, media-savvy, ideologically extreme, and an expert at justifying violence in the name of Islam, Abu Yahya is considered the heir apparent to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda throne. His story is already the stuff of extremist lore. Captured in 2002, he managed to escape from Bagram air base by picking his cell lock and posing as a U.S. soldier moving furniture. He has spent the ensuing years sharpening his extremist image, releasing feature-length videos, articles and even a photo shoot. Says one terrorism author: “Abu Yahya’s goal is nothing short of remaking Islam from the inside out, and he does so in a candid, compelling, and inherently populist fashion. In other words, what we know about how al Qaeda does business is about to completely change.”

Foreign Policy