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I am thinking of a word that I have forgotten. It can be used in sentences like; "I believe the [word] here is the incompetence in leadership..."

Basically, it is the cause (or a proposed cause) of something negative. I believe the word has some level of animacy, and for some reason I'm having associations with the word perpetrator and offender. I feel like it's at the tip of my tongue yet so far away.

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I just realized what I was looking for.

The culprit.

I believe the culprit here is the incompetence in leadership.

This explains my associations with perpetrator and offender.

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