Zarqawi’s successors proliferate, debkafile reports

President Bush says the military will now target Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s successor.
But who is that successor? Al Qaeda is offering a selection. The latest statement released Monday, June 12, says: “The shura council of al Qaeda in Iraq has unanimously agreed on Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Muhajir as successor to Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.” It was posted on a Web side the Islamists frequently used and added a pledge that the new leader would keep up his predecessor’s campaign of beheadings and suicide bombings.
debkafile‘s counter terror sources report al Qaeda experts in Western agencies running the global war on terror, or even circles close to al Qaeda, have never heard of Mr al-Muhajir. His name, they say, hints at a possible Afghan origin.
Even al Qaeda’s adherents in Iraq are stumped by the identity of their new commander – doubly confused by the bulletins on similar Web sites which all name different successors.
Our Iraq sources list them as: Abdul Rahman al Iraqi, Zarqawi’s deputy; Rashid Baghdadi, an Iraqi believed to head the shura council; Abu Asil, an ex-colonel in Saddam Hussein’s general intelligence service.
debkafile offers three optional reasons for the profusion of published successors:
1. A deliberate campaign to obscure the real identity of the new al Qaeda commander in Iraq.
2. A split in the shura council or a dispute in the top command over the choice.
3. A power struggle among local al Qaeda branches – each with its own commander, which would mean a serious division in al Qaeda’s ranks in Iraq.
Time will tell which of the three is closest to what is happening in the jihadist organization five days after its decapitatation.

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