The killing of Al-Qaeda leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri

US drone strike kills Ayman al-Zawahiri, Afghanistan in early August. (Photo: by Shutterstock).

Who was Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian eye surgeon and the leader of Al-Qaeda, who wanted to rule the world? Ahmad Abdul-Rahman explains.

The killing of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of the terrorist al-Qaeda organisation in Afghanistan, in an operation carried out by the US in Afghanistan, marked the end of a stage in the history of this organisation.

He was one of Washington's fiercest opponents, and was killed in a drone strike, without civilian casualties, at the age of 71. He was the most wanted person in the US due to his role in al-Qaeda since he was responsible for the September 11 attacks in New York in 2001. These attacks changed life in the contemporary world. The US government also offered USD 25 million for anyone who helped locate him.

Ayman Muhammad Rabie Al-Zawahiri was born on June 19,1951, in Cairo, into a distinguished middle-class family and grew up in the classy neighborhood of Maadi. Extremist tendencies appeared early on, and he was greatly influenced in his youth by the writings of Sayyid Qutb, the intellectual reference and spiritual father of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Al-Zawahiri participated in the activities of political Islamic movements while he was still in school. He was arrested at the age of 15 for joining the Muslim Brotherhood.

He attended Cairo University, where he studied medicine, specialising in surgery, and established a medical clinic in a Cairo suburb. However, he soon became attracted to Islamic groups. Al-Zawahiri joined the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) when it was founded in 1973. He graduated in 1974 from medical college, and after spending three years as a doctor, between 1980 and 1981, he worked with Red Crescent in Peshawar, Pakistan, and crossed the border to Afghanistan.

After his return to Egypt, he was arrested. He was among those accused of assassinating former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. During the trial, he told the court: "We believe in our religion and strive to establish the Islamic state."

After his release from prison in 1985, he left for Saudi Arabia and shortly thereafter, he went to Peshawar in Pakistan and then Afghanistan and established a faction of the EIJ. Al-Zawahiri assumed leadership of this movement after it re-emerged in 1993. and acknowledged that it was behind a series of attacks in Egypt, including the attempt to assassinate the then Prime Minister Atef Sedky.

Al-Zawahiri was responsible for the killing of hundreds of Egyptians in the mid-90s and the massacre of tourists in Luxor in 1997. Two years later, al-Zawahiri was sentenced to death in absentia, then the jihad organisation and five other radical groups joined Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda and played a prominent role in a coordinated series of bombings of American embassies in 1998 in East Africa.

Washington put his name second, after bin Laden, on the security wanted list after the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam bombings that targeted the US embassy in 1998. After the events of September 11, 2001, al-Zawahiri entered a new list of wanted men for the US and was seen as bin Laden's right-hand man and the main ideologist of al-Qaeda. .

Al-Zawahiri emerged as one of the prominent spokesmen for al-Qaeda, and he appeared in 16 audio and video tapes in 2007, four times more than bin Laden's appearance in the same year.

It is believed that al-Zawahiri was targeted in a US strike on January 13, 2006, and four al-Qaeda members were killed in the attack. However, al-Zawahiri survived and appeared on a videotape two weeks later warning then-US President George W. Bush that neither he nor "all the powers on earth" could kill him.

The eye surgeon took over the leadership of al-Qaeda following the killing of bin Laden by US forces in 2011, where he was hiding. In June of 2011, he warned the Americans in a statement that bin Laden would continue to "terrorise" the US, even from his grave.

News about his likely death increased over the last few years after he was said to suffering from a disease. The speculation continued until he appeared in a video a few months ago in which he refuted these rumours. However, he was finally killed in a US drone raid.

Egypt set to increase its exports to Africa
Egypt aims to strengthen its international relatio...


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Sunday, 25 September 2022