Discovering bin-Laden’s Replacement in al-Qaeda, using Social Network Analysis: A Methodological Investigation

Edith Wu, Rebecca Carleton, Garth Davies


The removal of Osama bin-Laden created a leadership void within al-Qaeda. Despite the group’s autonomous cell structure, an authorative figure remains essential for promoting and disseminating al-Qaeda’s ideology. An appropriate replacement should exhibit traits comparable to bin-Laden and have similar positioning within the structure of the group. Using a media-based sample and social network analysis, this study attempts to uncover the most probable successor for bin-Laden by examining the dynamics within al-Qaeda. The results indicate how the differential embeddedness of al-Qaeda members affects social capital, which in turn provides insights for leadership potiential.

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Perspectives on Terrorism is  a journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative and the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies

ISSN  2334-3745 (Online)

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