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from Cairo doctor to al Qaeda chief By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Osama bin Laden sits along with his adviser Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian linked to the al Qaeda community, throughout an interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir (not pictured) in a picture provided by Daybreak newspaper November 10, 2001. Hamid Mir/Ed

DUBAI (Reuters) – Ayman al-Zawahiri succeeded Osama bin Laden as al Qaeda chief after years as its most important organizer and strategist, however his lack of charisma and competitors from rival militants Islamic State hobbled his skill to encourage spectacular assaults on the West.

Zawahiri, 71, was killed over the weekend in a U.S. drone strike, U.S. officers instructed Reuters on Monday.

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

Within the years following bin Laden’s loss of life, U.S. air strikes killed a succession of Zawahiri’s deputies, weakening the veteran Egyptian militant’s skill to coordinate globally.

Regardless of a status as an rigid and combative character, Zawahiri managed to nurture loosely affiliated teams around the globe that grew to wage devastating native insurgencies, a few of them rooted in turmoil arising from the Arab Spring. The violence destabilized 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 US on Sept. 11, 2001, had been lengthy gone. As a substitute, 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.

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

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

A educated surgeon – certainly one of his pseudonyms was The Physician – 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 grew to become acquainted with bin Laden, a rich Saudi who had joined the Afghan resistance.

Taking up the management of Islamic Jihad in Egypt in 1993, 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 Zawahiri responded by ordering a 1995 assault on the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad. Two vehicles stuffed with explosives rammed by the compound’s gates, killing 16 folks.

In 1999, an Egyptian army court docket sentenced Zawahiri to loss of life 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.


For years Zawahiri was believed to be hiding alongside the forbidding border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.He assumed management of al Qaeda in 2011 after U.S. Navy Seals killed bin Laden in his hideout in Pakistan. Since then he repeatedly referred to as for world jihad, with an Ak-47 as his facet throughout video messages.

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

Zawahiri usually tried to stir passions amongst Muslims by commenting on-line about delicate points akin 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 stage, 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 folks in the US.

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 record.


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

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, 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 expenses of making an attempt to overthrow the state.

Individuals who studied with Zawahiri at Cairo College’s College of Drugs within the 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 individual,” mentioned a physician who studied with Zawahiri and declined to be named.

Within the courtroom cage after the assassination of Sadat at a army parade, 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 stress on these harmless prisoners,” he mentioned, firing up a wild-eyed man beside him and different militants.

Fellow prisoners mentioned these circumstances additional radicalised Zawahiri and set him on his path to world jihad.

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