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Osama bin Laden's demise began with the Arab Spring

Amid turmoil in Middle East and North Africa, Al Qaeda struggles to be relevant.

Experts said it is only a small minority of disorganized, ultra-conservative Salafists fomenting the discord in Egypt. But some members share a similar worldview, albeit more localized, to bin Laden.

"Most Salafists in Egypt believe that there is no place for violence. But in terms of burning churches, this is terrorism. The end result comes from the same philosophy espoused by Al Qaeda," said Steven Burke, a doctoral researcher studying Egyptian Islamists at the University of Texas.

The prospects of real democracy in places like Egypt and Tunisia may pressure even the most radical Islamists to broaden their appeal.

Walid Kazziha, a professor of political science at the American University in Cairo, believes that Islamist groups throughout the Middle East have been forced to moderate their stances since the popular uprisings spread across the region.

"The Arab Spring killed Osama bin Laden long before the U.S. did," said Kazziha. "That doesn't mean we won't have problems. But at least now we have promising new options to attract voters at ballot boxes."