IMU leadership is closely connected AQSL and one of its leaders sat on al Qaeda's shura council.
The al Qaeda senior leadership (AQSL) now primarily in Pakistan are those core group members who remained around Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and Pakistan following the 2001 U.S.
Intercepted communications between AQSL and senior leaders within al Qaeda's affiliates reveal a time lag in AQSL's knowledge of world news and petitions for updates on developments in various areas of interest.
The loss of al Qaeda's charismatic leader was a major blow to the network, but the smooth succession to Zawahiri, apparently in line with administrative terms laid out by bin Laden, ensured the continued vitality of AQSL. (x, 14) Zawahiri maintains a central role in the network, evidenced by his role in arbitrating disputes in the Levant and a petition from a senior al Shabaab member to mediate between leadership factions there.xi, 15 Even as the operations of the affiliates are increasingly independent of direct commands and support from al Qaeda core, it is unlikely that AQSL's importance in guiding the overall direction of the network will disappear.