Can al-Qaida move forward without bin Laden?
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: There are a lot of questions about what happens to al-Qaida now that Osama bin Laden is dead. One of those questions has to do with the funding for the terrorist operation and whether its finances will take a hit.
Phillip Zelikow was executive director of the 9/11 Commission, which released its report in 2004. He’s with us now from his home in Charlottesville, Virginia. Good morning sir.
PHILLIP ZELIKOW: Good morning.
CHIOTAKIS: It’s been years since the 9/11 report came out. Did you think we’d see this day?
ZELIKOW: I actually thought we probably would see this day. In the nearly seven years since we published our report, I knew the United States was going to keep working this problem. Our forces had repeatedly killed — located and killed senior al-Qaida officials. Over time, there was a good chance that we would eventually catch a break.
CHIOTAKIS: In the report, you talk about the continued operations of al-Qaida. How much does bin Laden’s death hamper its future funding?
ZELIKOW: The organization doesn’t need a huge amount of funding. I think the significance is less in their fund raising capability and more in the world wide symbolic presences of the organization. And bin Laden is an inspirational figure. Both his death and the success of the United States in tracking him down signals that there are other outlooks for change in the Arab and Muslim world and al-Qaida increasingly will seem a peripheral organization who’s leader is now gone. And maybe something that more and more seems like something of the past.
CHIOTAKIS: The Obama administration threw a lot of money at the operation. You think that helped?
ZELIKOW: Well, the main investments we’ve made is in the creation fo these capabilities and the joint special operations command. And those are large investments. They’ve been made over a long time. The additional amount of money in order to get that organization to mount this operation — man it’s worth it.
CHIOTAKIS: Phillip Zelikow is co-author of the 9/11 report. Thank you sir.
ZELIKOW: OK you’re welcome.
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