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The U.S. Hellfire missiles that killed Ayman al-Zawahri dealt al-Qaida a powerful symbolic blow, but its far-flung branches are tactically independent and will not be deterred from plotting more attacks on local and Western targets, experts say.

On his watch — which began with the 2011 death of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida’s original driving force — the group often lost ground to the Islamic State in a contest for relevance, especially among young jihadi fighters lured by the newer group’s self-proclaimed caliphate.

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