Now that Osama bin Laden is dead, who’s taken his place as the leader of al Qaeda? That’s not such an easy question. “I wouldn’t want to speculate at this time. I mean, there are a number of senior al Qaeda officials who could, in theory, step up,” a senior US intelligence official told reporters at the Pentagon last week. He added, “Ayman al Zawahiri is obviously the presumed successor, but there are strong indications that he is not popular within certain circles of the group. So, I believe, it’s an open question as to who will take over for Osama bin Laden.” Last week, al Qaeda issued a statement acknowledging bin Laden’s death, reported Reuters. The statement made no mention of Zawahiri or a possible successor. (Briefing transcript) (See also US Special Forces Kill Osama Bin Laden.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.