Ayman Al-Zawahiri, chief of Al-Qaeda, dead: Report
- The killing of Osama bin Laden in a US operation in Pakistan in 2011 left the beleaguered group in the clutches of Zawahiri
- However, many believe he did not possess Laden’s ability to rally Islamic radicals from around the world
- The biggest challenge the terror outfit now faces is not just to find a new leader, but also to match up to the level of fear the organisation commanded during Laden’s reign
Kabul: Ayman Al-Zawahiri, a chief of dreaded terror organisation Al-Qaeda died in Afghanistan a month due to natural causes, according to Arab News report. If true, his death could prove a catastrophic turnaround for the terror outfit, which he co-founded with former leader Osama bin Laden in 1988 in Pakistan’s Peshawar.
What’s even more concerning for the terror group is that they have to now scramble to fill the top spot as two of their senior commanders in line to replace Zawahiri were recently killed.
Hamza bin Laden, a son of bin Laden, was killed in a US counter-terrorism operation last year, according to the White House.
The New York Times in a report last week stated that Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command Abdullah Ahmad Abdullah, aka Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was secretly killed in Iran’s Tehran in August by two Israeli operatives.
An Egyptian national, 69-year-old Zawahiri was last seen in a video during the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks this year two months ago. The 9/11 attacks were a series of four coordinated terrorist strikes by the Al-Qaeda in the United States on 11 September 2001.
The killing of Laden, a Saudi, in a US operation in Pakistan in 2011 left the beleaguered group in the clutches of Zawahiri, but experts say he did not possess Laden’s ability to rally Islamic radicals from around the world.
Rita Katz, director of the jihadist media monitor SITE, cited unconfirmed reports to speculate Zawahiri had died.
“It is very typical of Al-Qaeda to not publish news about the death of its leaders in a timely manner,” she said, according to news agency AFP.
The biggest challenge the terror outfit now faces is not just to find a new leader, but also to match up to the level of fear the organisation commanded during Laden’s reign.
Many experts point towards one person to take over the mantle – Saif al-Adel, a former lieutenant-colonel in the Egyptian armed forces, who then joined the Egyptian jihadist movement back in the 1980s.
Adel was arrested and later released, following which he ended up in Afghanistan – the base for Laden and Zawahiri, eventually joining the Al-Qaeda.