SPIEGEL: How severe a blow to al-Qaida is the death of Osama bin Laden?
Uhrlau: For al-Qaida as a whole — in other words, both the core organization and the regional organizations — Bin Laden’s death marks the loss of its undisputed main symbolic and leading figure. He had not been centrally involved in operations for some time, but he remained the main source of ideological thinking and chief strategist. Bin Laden decided whether groups like today’s Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb or Al-Qaida in Iraq were to be allowed to join the network. The oath of allegiance was made to bin Laden, not the organization. In the past, various financial backers had based their support for the network on bin Laden as a symbolic figure and on his origins in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Whether this funding will continue to flow is now very questionable. The same applies to the supporters who have sworn their oath of allegiance to him. It isn’t clear whether they will obey a successor.