|Confused Taliban fighter (AP)|
On Thursday, after many false starts, the FBI released official photos of two new persons of interest. As police and counter-terrorism agencies combed through mountains of evidence for insight into who may have carried out the deadly bombings, jihadists also searched desperately for the perpetrators.
"It is always our intent to claim credit for killing sinister Americans so we can rid the world of this evil scum forever," an al Qaeda spokesperson told U.S. authorities in a prepared statement on Tuesday. "We are working diligently to identify the culprits, and it is our brightest hope that these people are affiliated with one of our cells."
The deaths of Osama bin Laden (2011) and Abu Yahya al Libi (2012) -- al Qaeda's masterminds -- severely hobbled the group's explosive growth. Today, the world's most infamous terrorist organization fights to remain relevant in the cold, dimming shadow of its former glory.
"More than other jihadists, al Qaeda needs this win to stay in the game," State Department officials observed.
In the summer of 2012, the group's attenuated leadership team made the decision to move away from large-scale, centrally-organized operations toward smaller, easy to execute attacks by "lone wolf" individuals. Though lacking the dramatic effects of a September 11-style bloodbath, these independent campaigns represented the only options left for al Qaeda, whose faltering business model forced it to cut back.
Al Qaeda essentially began as a small, privately held start up that capitalized on immediate successes rather than long-term strategies. Business analysts say it's the classic example of growing too big, too fast. But the group never evolved. In fact, many of al Qaeda's division chiefs openly scoff at the idea of evolution.
The group's operating model is decentralized, revenues are difficult to report, and executives have done little to build a foundation that favors a stable employment base with advancement opportunities.
The combative enterprise also has no discernible HR policies whatsoever. Benefits seem to be delivered as one-time, upfront payments. Worse yet, employee turnover has reached levels seldom seen in other businesses, including call centers. One al Qaeda cell manager said he is facing attrition rates of 90 to 99 percent.
Because many investors have pulled back in the wake of leadership shakedowns and poor performance, the "house that bin Laden built" has found itself in a financially compromised position, limping dejectedly toward the verge of insolvency.
On Thursday, despite bold efforts, the beleaguered terrorist group finally threw in the towel.
"Given the tremendous success of the attacks in Boston and the level of symbolic damage they wrought, we are humiliated and saddened to acknowledge that none of our operatives played a part in maiming our enemies in the West," al Qaeda representatives announced via state-run media in Pakistan.
The Taliban, which proudly promoted its role in a 2010 bomb plot in New York, also failed to tie the Boston marathon attacks to any of its members.
A Taliban spokesperson said that it completely supported Monday's assault, but was not behind the onslaught that left three dead and over 170 seriously wounded.
"We believe in attacking the U.S. and its allies, but we are not involved in this attack," Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), told the foreign press.
"We are heartbroken to have no connection to this destructively beautiful bombing and the chaos it created," he added. "The Muslim nations are at war with the Great Satan of America for terrorizing the Muslim people. We of course hope many more will die of their injuries, and we will continue our efforts to destroy your degenerate, greedy land of infidels. But we are disappointed. These actions were likely undertaken by a couple of disgruntled, anarchist suburbanites. We grieve for our losses and for being shown up by these amateurs. We also condemn their actions, for they did not operate with a clear anti-America agenda, they did not sacrifice themselves as martyrs, and they have not attempted to produce a video or send any other kind of message to help the cause of jihad. They wasted an opportunity for Islam, and for that we hope they burn in Hell with the Americans they killed."
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