Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has been killed in a US drone assault in Afghanistan, was the group’s key ideologue and strategist, masterminding its world community and planning assaults on america.
The 71-year-old Egyptian eye physician had central roles within the assaults on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the 9/11 assaults on the Washington DC and New York Metropolis, the place almost 3,000 folks have been killed.
He was named because the group’s chief two months after founder Osama Bin Laden was killed by the US in 2011.
Whereas Bin Laden got here from a privileged background in a distinguished Saudi household, al-Zawahiri had the expertise of an underground revolutionary. Bin Laden offered al-Qaeda with charisma and cash, nevertheless it was al-Zawahiri who introduced ways and organisational abilities.
“Bin Laden at all times appeared as much as him,” Bruce Hoffman, a professor and skilled in safety research at Georgetown College, advised the Related Press information company.
Al-Zawahiri first rose to prominence when he stood in a courtroom cage after the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981.
“We’ve sacrificed and we’re nonetheless prepared for extra sacrifices till the victory of Islam,” shouted al-Zawahiri, carrying a white gown, as fellow defendants enraged by 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 prices within the assassination.
A skilled surgeon — certainly one of his pseudonyms was The Physician — al-Zawahiri went to Pakistan on his launch the place he labored with the Crimson Crescent treating mujahideen fighters wounded in Afghanistan battling Soviet forces.
That was when he grew to become acquainted with bin Laden, who had joined the Afghan resistance.
Taking up 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 through which greater than 1,200 Egyptians have 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, Ethiopia. The greying, white-turbaned al-Zawahiri responded by ordering a 1995 assault on the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. Two automobiles crammed with explosives rammed by way of the compound’s gates, killing 16 folks.
He was additionally linked to the assaults on international vacationers within the metropolis of Luxor, Egypt, in 1997, which left 62 folks lifeless.
In 1999, an Egyptian navy courtroom sentenced al-Zawahiri to demise in absentia.
By then, he was already serving to Bin Laden to kind al-Qaeda and for years was believed to be hiding alongside the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In a eulogy for Bin Laden, al-Zawahiri promised to proceed assaults on the West, recalling the specter of the group’s founder that “you’ll not dream of safety till we reside it as a actuality and till you permit the lands of the Muslims”.
However he watched in dismay as al-Qaeda was successfully sidelined by the 2011 Arab revolts, launched primarily by middle-class activists and intellectuals against many years of autocracy, and because the emergence of the ISIL (ISIS) group in 2014-2019 in Iraq and Syria drew world consideration.
Born in 1951 to a distinguished Cairo household, al-Zawahiri was a grandson of the grand imam of Al Azhar, certainly one of Islam’s most necessary mosques.
He was introduced up 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 was reportedly arrested at 15 for becoming a member of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. He additionally discovered inspiration within the revolutionary concepts of Egyptian author Sayyid Qutb, who was executed in 1966 on prices of attempting to overthrow the state.
Individuals who studied with al-Zawahiri at Cairo College’s College of Medication within the Nineteen Seventies describe a energetic younger man who went to the cinema, listened to music and joked with mates.
“When he got here out of jail he was a totally completely different particular person,” stated a physician who studied with al-Zawahiri and declined to be named.