Ayman al-Zawahiri | From Cairo doctor to al-Qaeda chief

Ayman al-Zawahiri | From Cairo doctor to al-Qaeda chief


Ayman al-Zawahiri succeeded Osama bin Laden as al-Qaeda chief after years as its essential organiser and strategist, however his lack of charisma and competitors from rival militants Islamic State hobbled his capability to encourage sizeable assaults on the West.

al-Zawahiri, 71, was killed in a U.S. drone strike, U.S. President Joe Biden stated on dwell tv on Monday night. U.S. officers stated the assault happened on Sunday within the Afghan capital Kabul.

Within the years following bin Laden’s dying in 2011, U.S. air strikes killed a succession of al-Zawahiri’s deputies, weakening the veteran Egyptian militant’s capability to coordinate globally.

He had watched as al-Qaeda was successfully sidelined by the 2011 Arab revolts, launched primarily by middle-class activists and intellectuals against many years of autocracy.

Regardless of a fame as an rigid and combative persona, al-Zawahiri managed to nurture loosely affiliated teams world wide that grew to wage devastating insurgencies, a few of them rooted in turmoil arising from the Arab Spring. The violence destabilised a lot of international locations throughout Asia, Africa and the Center East.

However al-Qaeda’s days because the centrally directed, hierarchical community of plotters that attacked the USA on Sept. 11, 2001, had been lengthy gone. As an alternative, militancy returned to its roots in local-level conflicts, pushed by a mixture of native grievances and incitement by transnational jihadi networks utilizing social media.

al-Zawahiri’s origins in Islamist militancy went again many years.

The primary time the world heard of him was when he stood in a courtroom cage after the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat in 1981.

“We have now sacrificed and we’re nonetheless prepared for extra sacrifices till the victory of Islam,” shouted al-Zawahiri, sporting a white gown, as fellow defendants enraged by al-Sadat’s peace treaty with Israel chanted slogans.

al-Zawahiri served a three-year jail time period for unlawful arms possession, however was acquitted of the principle fees.

A educated surgeon — one in every of his pseudonyms was The Physician — al-Zawahiri went to Pakistan on his launch the place he labored with the Purple Crescent treating Islamist mujahideen guerrillas wounded in Afghanistan preventing Soviet forces.

Throughout that interval, he turned acquainted with bin Laden, a rich Saudi who had joined the Afghan resistance.

Taking on the management of Islamic Jihad in Egypt in 1993, al-Zawahiri was a number one determine in a marketing campaign within the mid-Nineties to overthrow the federal government and arrange a purist Islamic state. Greater than 1,200 Egyptians had been killed.

Egyptian authorities mounted a crackdown on Islamic Jihad after an assassination try on President Hosni Mubarak in June of 1995 in Addis Ababa. The greying, white-turbaned al-Zawahiri responded by ordering a 1995 assault on the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad. Two automobiles crammed with explosives rammed via the compound’s gates, killing 16 individuals.

In 1999, an Egyptian navy courtroom sentenced al-Zawahiri to dying in absentia. By then he was residing the spartan lifetime of a militant after serving to Bin Laden to type al-Qaeda.

A videotape aired by Al Jazeera in 2003 confirmed the 2 males strolling on a rocky mountainside — a picture that Western intelligence hoped would supply clues on their whereabouts.

Threats of worldwide jihad

For years al-Zawahiri was believed to be hiding alongside the forbidding border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

This yr, U.S. officers recognized that al-Zawahiri’s household — his spouse, his daughter and her youngsters — had relocated to a protected home in Kabul and subsequently recognized Zawahiri on the similar location, a senior administration official stated.

He was killed in a drone assault when he got here out on the balcony of the home on Sunday morning, the official stated. Nobody else was damage.

al-Zawahiri assumed management of al-Qaeda in 2011 after U.S. Navy Seals killed bin Laden in his hideout in Pakistan. Since then he repeatedly known as for international jihad, with an Ak-47 as his facet throughout video messages.

In a eulogy for bin Laden, al-Zawahiri promised to pursue assaults on the West, recalling the Saudi-born militant’s menace that “you’ll not dream of safety till we dwell it as a actuality and till you allow the lands of the Muslims”.

Because it turned out, the emergence of the much more hardline Islamic State in 2014-2019 in Iraq and Syria drew as a lot, if no more, consideration from Western counter-terrorism authorities.

al-Zawahiri typically tried to stir passions amongst Muslims by commenting on-line about delicate points similar to U.S. insurance policies within the Center East or Israeli actions towards Palestinians, however his supply was seen as missing bin Laden’s magnetism.

On a sensible degree, al-Zawahiri is believed to have been concerned in a few of al Qaeda’s largest operations, serving to organise the 2001 assaults, when airliners hijacked by al-Qaeda had been used to kill 3,000 individuals in the USA.

He was indicted for his alleged position within the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The FBI put a $25 million bounty on his head on its most wished listing.

Outstanding household

al-Zawahiri didn’t emerge from Cairo’s slums, like others drawn to militant teams who promised a noble trigger. Born in 1951 to a distinguished Cairo household, al-Zawahiri was a grandson of the grand imam of Al Azhar, one in every of Islam’s most necessary mosques.

al-Zawahiri was raised in Cairo’s leafy Maadi suburb, a spot favoured by expatriates from the Western nations he railed towards. The son of a pharmacology professor, al-Zawahiri first embraced Islamic fundamentalism on the age of 15.

He was impressed by the revolutionary concepts of Egyptian author Sayyid Qutb, an Islamist executed in 1966 on fees of attempting to overthrow the state.

Individuals who studied with al-Zawahiri at Cairo College’s School of Drugs within the Nineteen Seventies describe a energetic younger man who went to the cinema, listened to music and joked with buddies.

“When he got here out of jail he was a very totally different individual,” stated a physician who studied with al-Zawahiri and declined to be named.

Within the courtroom cage after the assassination of al-Sadat at a navy parade, al-Zawahiri addressed the worldwide press, saying militants had suffered from extreme torture together with whippings and assaults by wild canines in jail.

“They arrested the wives, the moms, the fathers, the sisters and the sons in a trial to place the psychological strain on these harmless prisoners,” he stated.

Fellow prisoners stated these circumstances additional radicalised al-Zawahiri and set him on his path to international jihad.


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