Usama bin Laden’s longtime deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri has taken control of Al Qaeda, the group said Thursday, a widely anticipated move that comes at a time the terror network is struggling for relevance amid a wave of Arab uprisings that has threatened to upstage it.

Al-Zawahiri, a surgeon by training, has long brought ideological fire as well as tactical and organizational cunning to Al Qaeda, which has found itself increasingly decentralized and prone to internal disputes following its expulsion from Afghanistan after its invasion by U.S. forces in 2001.

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