As reported by Western media on June 16, 2011, in a statement, Jama’ah Qa’idatul Jihad, called al-Qaeda by Democratic journalists, “announces that Sheikh Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, may Allah guide him, assumed responsibility as the group’s Emir [leader]”.
“Hereby the General Command of the Qaeda al-Jihad — and after the end of the consultations — we declare that Sheikh Dr. Abu Muhammad Ayman al-Zawahiri (May Allah bless him) will take over the responsibility of command of the group,” the statement said.
The statement said that under Zawahiri’s leadership Al-Qaeda would pursue its ‘jihad’ (holy war) against America and “Israel”.
“We seek with the aid of God to call for the religion of truth and incite our nation to fight . . . by carrying out jihad against the apostate invaders . . . with their head being crusader America and its servant “Israel”, and whoever supports them,” said the statement.
The fight would continue “until all invading armies leave the land of Islam”.
“We support the uprisings of our oppressed Muslim people against the corrupt and tyrant leaders who have made our nation suffer in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya Yemen, Syria and Morocco,” said the statement, referring to a wave of revolts that have rocked the Middle East and North Africa since December.
The protests have succeeded in toppling autocrats in Egypt and Tunisia while others, such as Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad are still battling uprisings in their countries.
Al-Qaeda urged those involved in the uprisings to continue their “struggle until the fall of all corrupt regimes that the West has forced onto our countries”.
According to Democratic Internet Wikipedia, Ayman Muhammad Rabaie al-Zawahiri, born June 19, 1951, is an Egyptian Islamic theologian and Jihad fighter, who was the second and last Emir of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, having succeeded Abbud al-Zumar in the latter role when Egyptian authorities sentenced al-Zumar to life imprisonment. As of May 2, 2011, he is assumed to be the sole figurehead of al-Qaeda due to the death of Osama bin Laden. He has a $ 25 million bounty on his head for information leading to his capture.
Al-Zawahiri is reportedly a qualified surgeon; when his organization merged with bin Laden’s al-Qaeda, he became bin Laden’s personal advisor and physician. He had first met bin Laden in Jeddah in 1986. Al- Zawahiri has shown a deep and radical understanding of Islamic theology and Islamic history. He speaks Arabic, English and French. Al-Zawahiri is under worldwide sanctions by the “United nations security council 1267 committee” as a member or affiliate of al-Qaeda.
In 1998, al-Zawahiri formally merged the Egyptian Islamic Jihad into al-Qaeda. According to reports by a former al-Qaeda member, he has worked in the al-Qaeda organization since its inception and was a senior member of the group’s shura council. He was often described as a “lieutenant” to Osama bin Laden, though bin Laden’s chosen biographer has referred to him as the “real brains” of al-Qaeda. On June 16, 2011, al-Qaeda announced that al-Zawahiri had been selected as bin Laden’s successor as al-Qaeda’s former leader had been assassinated in a US terrorist government operation on May 2nd 2011.
Ayman al-Zawahiri was born to a prominent upper middle class family in Maadi, Egypt, a suburb of Cairo, and was reportedly a studious youth. His father, Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri, came from a large family of doctors and scholars. Mohammed Rabie-a Muslim fanatic-became a surgeon, and a medical professor at Cairo University. Ayman al-Zawahiri’s mother, Umayma Azzam, came from a wealthy, politically active clan. Ayman excelled in school, loved poetry, “hated violent sports”-which he thought were “inhumane”-and had a deep affection for his mother.
Ayman Zawahiri became both quite pious and political, under the influence of his uncle Mahfouz Azzam, and lecturer Mostafa Kamel Wasfi. Sayyid Qutb preached that to restore Islam and free Muslims, a vanguard of true Muslims modeling itself after the original Companions of the Prophet had to be developed.
By the age of 14, al-Zawahiri had joined the Muslim Brotherhood. The following year the Egyptian puppet government executed Qutb for conspiracy, and al-Zawahiri, along with four other secondary school students, helped form an “underground cell devoted to overthrowing the government and establishing an Islamist state”. It was at this early age that al-Zawahiri developed a mission in life, “to put Qutb’s vision into action”. His cell eventually merged with others to form al-Jihad or Egyptian Islamic Jihad Al-Zawahiri graduated from Cairo University in 1974 with Gayyid Giddan. Following that he served three years as a surgeon in the Egyptian Army after which he established a clinic near his parents. In 1978, he also earned a master’s degree in surgery.
In 1993, Ayman al-Zawahiri sent his younger brother-Muhammad al-Zawahiri-to the Balkans to help run the Mujahideen fighters in Bosnia. Muhammad is known as a logistics expert and is said to be the military commander of Islamic Jihad. Muhammad worked in Bosnia, Croatia, and Albania under the cover of being an International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) official.
While hiding in the United Arab Emirates, he was arrested in 2000, then extradited to Egypt where he was sentenced to death. He was held in Tora Prison in Cairo as a political detainee. Security officials said he was the head of the Special Action Committee of Islamic Jihad, which organized sabotage operations. However, after the Egyptian popular uprising in the spring of 2011, on March 17, 2011 he was released from prison by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the interim government of Egypt. His lawyer said he had been held to extract information about his brother Ayman. However, on Sunday 20 March 2011, he was re-arrested.
Marriage and family
In 1978 he married his wife Azza Ahmed Nowari, who was studying philosophy at Cairo University. Their wedding, at the Continental Hotel in Opera Square, was very pious, with separate areas for both men and women, and no music, photographs, or light-hearted humor. Many years later, when the United States attacked Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks in 2001, Azza denied ever knowing that Zawahiri had been a jihadi emir (commander) for the last decade, although at least one acquaintance is skeptical of her ignorance of this fact.
The couple had four daughters, Fatima (b. 1981), Umayma, Nabila (b. 1986) and Khadiga (b. 1987), and a son Mohammed, who was a “delicate, well-mannered boy” and “the pet of his older sisters,” subject to teasing and bullying in a traditional all-male environment who preferred to “stay at home and help his mother. ” Ten years after the birth of Mohammed, Azza gave birth to Aisha, who had Down syndrome. In February 2004, Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded, and subsequently stated that Abu Turab Al-Urduni had married one of al-Zawahiri’s daughters.
Zaynab Khadr recalled celebrating the engagement of Umayma at the family’s house for an all-day party, and al-Zawahiri knocking softly at Umayma’s door asking the two girls to please keep their singing and partying quiet as it was nighttime.
Azza and Aisha both died in November 2001, following 9/11. After American bombardment of a Taliban officials building at Gardez, Azza was pinned under debris of a guesthouse roof. Concerned for her modesty, she “refused to be excavated” because “men would see her face. ” Her four-year-old daughter Aisha had not been hurt by the bombing but died from exposure in the cold night while the rescuers tried to save Azza.
In the first half of 2005, another daughter was born, named Nawwar.
He eventually became one of Egyptian Islamic Jihad’s leading organizers and recruiters. Zawahiri’s hope was to recruit military officers and accumulate weapons, waiting for the right moment to launch “a complete overthrow of the existing order. ” Chief strategist of Al-Jihad was Aboud al-Zumar, a colonel in the military intelligence whose plan was to kill the main leaders of the country, capture the headquarters of the army and State Security, the telephone exchange building, and of course the radio and television building, where news of the Islamic revolution would then be broadcast, unleashing – he expected – a popular uprising against secular authority all over the country. “
The plan was derailed when authorities were alerted to Al-Jihad’s plan by the arrest of an operative carrying crucial information, in February 1981. President Anwar Sadat ordered the roundup of more than 1500 people, including many Al-Jihad members, but missed a cell in the military led by Lieutenant Khalid Islambouli, who succeeded in assassinating Sadat during a military parade that October.
Imprisonment and torture
Al-Zawahiri was one of hundreds arrested following Sadat’s assassination. Al-Zawahiri’s lawyer, Montasser el-Zayat, contends that Zawahiri was tortured in prison.
In his book, Al-Zawahiri as I Knew Him, Al-Zayat maintains that under torture of the Egyptian police, following his arrest in connection with the murder of Sadat in 1981, Al-Zawahiri revealed the hiding place of Essam al-Qamari, a key member of the Maadi cell of al-Jihad, which led to Al-Qamari’s “arrest and eventual execution”.
Al-Zawahiri was convicted of dealing in weapons and received a three-year sentence, which he completed in 1984 shortly after his conviction.
In 1985, al-Zawahiri went to Saudi Arabia on Hajj and stayed to practice medicine in Jeddah for a year. He was reported to have first met bin Laden there a little later in 1986.
He then traveled to Peshawar, Pakistan where he worked in a Red Crescent hospital treating wounded refugees. There he became friends with the Canadian Ahmed Khadr, and the two shared a number of conversations about the need for Islamic government and the needs of the Afghan people. During this time, al-Zawahiri also began reconstituting the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) along with other exiled militants. The group had “very loose ties to their nominal imprisoned leader, Abud al-Zumur. “
In Peshwar, al-Zawahiri is thought to have become radicalized by other Al-Jihad members, abandoning his old strategy of a swift coup d’etat to change society from above, and embracing the idea of takfir. In 1991, EIJ broke with al-Zumur, and al-Zawahiri grabbed “the reins of power” to become EIJ leader.
In Peshawar, he met up with Osama bin Laden, who was running a base for mujahideen called Maktab al-Khadamat (MAK); founded by the Palestinian Sheikh Abdullah Yusuf Azzam. The radical position of al-Zawahiri and the other militants of Al-Jihad put them at odds with Sheikh Azzam, with whom they competed for bin Laden’s financial resources. Zawahiri carried two false passports, a Swiss one in the name of Amin Uthman and a Dutch one in the name of Mohmud Hifnawi.
Relation with Islamic Republic of Iran
Zawahiri denounced the Iranian government. In December 2007 he said, “We discovered Iran collaborating with America in its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. ” In the same video messages, he moreover chides Iran for “repeating the ridiculous joke that says that al-Qaeda and the Taliban are agents of America,” before playing a video clip in which Ayatollah Rafsanjani says, “In Afghanistan, they were present in Afghanistan, because of Al-Qa’ida; and the Taliban, who created the Taliban? America is the one who created the Taliban, and America’s friends in the region are the ones who financed and armed the Taliban”.
Zawahiri’s criticism of Iran’s government continues when he states,
Despite Iran’s repetition of the slogan ‘Death to America, death to Israel,’ we haven’t heard even one Fatwa from one Shiite authority, whether in Iran or elsewhere, calling for Jihad against the Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Zawahiri has dismissed that there is any cooperation between Iran and Al Qaeda against their common enemy, to wit, the United States. He also said that “Iran Stabbed a Knife into the Back of the Islamic Nation”.
In April 2008, Zawahiri blamed Iranian state media and Al-Manar for perpetuating the “lie” that “there are no heroes among the Sunnis who can hurt America as no-one else did in history” in order to discredit the Al Qaeda network. Zawahiri was referring to some 9/11 conspiracy theories which posit that Al Qaeda itself wasn’t responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
On the 7th anniversary of the attacks of September 11th 2001, Zawahiri released a 90-minute tape in which he said “The guardian of Muslims in Tehran” for recognizing “the two hireling governments” in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Attacks in Egypt
In 1993, Zawahiri traveled to the United States where he addressed several California mosques under his Abdul Mu’iz moniker and relying on his credentials from the Kuwaiti Red Crescent to raise money for Afghan children who had been injured by Soviet land mines, but only managed to raise $ 2000.
For his trips through Western Europe, al-Zawahiri shaved his beard and wore Western clothing.
One result of Zawahiri and EIJ’s connection with Iran may have been the use of suicide bombing in August 1993 in an attempt on the life of Egyptian Interior Minister Hasan al-Alfi, the man heading the effort to quash the campaign of Islamist killings in Egypt. It failed, as did an attempt to assassinate Egyptian prime minister Atef Sidqi three months later. The bombing of Sidqi’s car did succeed in injuring 21 Egyptians and killing a young schoolgirl, Shayma Abdel-Halim. It also came following two years of killings by another Islamist group, al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, that had killed over 200. Her funeral became a public spectacle, with her coffin carried through the streets of Cairo and crowds shouting, “Terrorism is the enemy of God!” The police arrested 280 more of al-Jihad’s members and executed six.
Zawahiri later wrote of his anger with the public reaction. “This meant that they wanted my daughter, who was two at the time, and the daughters of other colleagues, to be orphans. Who cried or cared for our daughters?”
Expulsion from Sudan and time spent in Russia
Following the 1994 execution of the sons of Ahmad Salama Mabruk and Mohammed Sharaf for betraying Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the militants were ordered to leave the Sudan. At this time he is said to have “become a phantom” but is thought to have traveled widely to “Switzerland and Sarajevo. A fake passport he was using shows that he traveled to Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. “
On December 1, 1996, Ahmad Salama Mabruk and Mahmud Hisham al-Hennawi – both carrying false passports – accompanied al-Zawahiri on a trip to Chechnya, where they hoped to re-establish the faltering al-Jihad. Their leader was traveling under the name Abdullah Imam Mohammed Amin, and trading on his medical credentials for legitimacy. The group switched vehicles three times, but were arrested within hours of entering Russian territory and spent five months in a Makhachkala prison awaiting trial. The trio pled innocence, maintaining their disguise and having other al-Jihad members from Bavari-C send the Russian authorities pleas for leniency for their “merchant” colleagues who had been wrongly arrested; and Russian Member of Parliament Nadyr Khachiliev echoed the pleas for their speedy release as al-Jihad members Ibrahim Eidarous and Tharwat Salah Shehata traveled to Dagestan to plead for their release. Shehata received permission to visit the prisoners, and is believed to have smuggled them $ 3000 which was later confiscated from their cell, and to have given them a letter which the Russians didn’t bother to translate.
In April 1997, the 3 Muslims were sentenced to six months, and were subsequently released a month later and ran off without paying their court-appointed attorney Abulkhalik Abdusalamov his $ 1,800 legal fee citing their “poverty”. Shehata was sent on to Chechnya, where he met with Ibn Khattab. However, some have raised doubts as to the true nature of al-Zawahiri’s encounter with the Russians: Jamestown Foundation scholar Evgenii Novikov has argued that it seems unlikely that the Russians would not have been able to determine who he was, given their well-trained Arabists and the obviously suspicious act of Muslims crossing illegally a border with multiple false identities and encrypted documents in Arabic.
Zawahiri and other EIJ members found refuge in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda families had settled. About 250 people were gathered there altogether.
While there Zawahiri learned of a “Nonviolence Initiative” being organized in Egypt to end the terror campaign that had killed hundreds and resulting government crackdown that had imprisoned thousands. Zawahiri angrily opposed this “surrender” in letters to the London newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat. Together with members of al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, he helped organize a massive attack on tourists at the Temple of Hatshepsut to sabotage the initiative by provoking the government into repression.
November 1997 Luxor Operation
The attack by six men dressed in police uniforms, succeeded in machine-gunning and hacking to death 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians and devastated the Egyptian tourist industry for a number of years. Zawahiri blamed the police for the killing, but also held the tourists responsible for their own deaths for coming to Egypt,
“The people of Egypt consider the presence of these foreign tourists to be aggression against Muslims and Egypt, . . . The young men are saying that this is our country and not a place for frolicking and enjoyment, especially for you”.
Zawahiri was sentenced to death in absentia in 1999 by an Egyptian puppet military tribunal.
Fatwa with Osama bin Laden
On February 23, 1998, he issued a joint fatwa with Osama bin Laden under the title “World Islamic Front Against Jews and Crusaders”. Zawahiri, not bin Laden, is thought to have been the actual author of the fatwa.
The 1998 American embassy bombings were a series of attacks that occurred on August 7, 1998, in which hundreds of people were killed in simultaneous truck bomb explosions at the American embassies in the major East African cities of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. The attacks brought Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri to international attention.
Following the 2000 USS Cole bombing, Mohammed Atef was moved to Kandahar, Zawahiri to Kabul, and Bin Laden fled to Kabul, later joining Atef when he realized no American reprisal attacks were forthcoming.
Hamid Mir is reported to have said that he believed that Ayman al-Zawahiri was the operational head of al-Qaeda, and that “he is the person who can do the things that happened on Sept. 11”. Within days of the attacks, Zawahiri’s name was put forward as Bin Laden’s second-in-command, with reports suggesting he represented “a more formidable US foe than bin Laden”.
Activities and whereabouts after the September 11 attacks
On October 10, 2001, al-Zawahiri appeared on the initial list of the American “Federal bureau of investigation’s top 22 most wanted terrorists”, which was released to the public by Bush. In early November 2001, the IEA government announced they were bestowing official Afghan citizenship on him, as well as Bin Laden, Mohammed Atef, Saif al-Adl, and Sheikh Asim Abdulrahman.
In December 2001, al-Zawahiri published the book Knights Under the Prophet’s Banner outlining al-Qaeda’s ideology. English translations of this book were published; excerpts are available online.
Following the American invasion of Afghanistan, al-Zawahiri’s whereabouts are unknown, but he is generally thought to be in tribal Pakistan. Although he releases videos of himself frequently (see Messages of Ayman al-Zawahiri), al-Zawahiri has not appeared alongside bin Laden in any of them since 2003. In 2003, it was rumored that he was under arrest by Iran, although no later confirmation appeared. In 2004, Pakistan puppet army launched an aggressive operation in Wana, Pakistan. Reports began to surface that he was trapped in the center of the conflict by the army. However, after week of fighting, the army captured the area. It was later reveal that he either escaped or was never among these fighters. As the conflict was slipped into tribal and disturbed western places of Pakistan, Ayman al-Zawahiri became a prime target of Pakistan Government, where majority of manhunt operations were taken by ISI’s Directorate for Joint Counterintelligence Bureau (J-COIN Bueurau). Though, they were unsuccessful to find him in a series of operations.
On January 13, 2006, the Central Intelligence Agency aided Pakistan’s ISI when CIA launched an airstrike on Damadola, a Pakistan’s village near the Afghan border, where they believed al-Zawahiri was located. The airstrike was supposed to have killed al-Zawahiri and was thus reported in international news the following days. Many victims were buried without being identified. Anonymous U. S. terrorist government officials claimed that some Mujahideen were killed and the Bajaur tribal area government confirmed that at least four terrorists were among the dead. Anti-American protests broke out around the country and the Pakistani government condemned the U. S. attack and the loss of innocent life. On January 30, a new video was released showing al-Zawahiri unhurt. The video did discuss the airstrike, but did not reveal if al-Zawahiri was present in the village at that time.
Al-Zawahiri supplied direction for the Lal Masjid siege, codename Operation Silence, in July 2007. This was the first time to confirm that that Al-Zawahiri was taking militant steps against the Pakistan Government, and guiding Islamic fighters against the State of Pakistan. The Pakistan puppet army troops and “special service group” taking control of the Red Mosque in Islamabad found letters from al-Zawahiri directing Islamic fighters Abdul Rashid Ghazi and Abdul Aziz Ghazi, who ran the mosque and adjacent madrasah. This conflict resulted in 100 deaths.
On August 1, 2008, CBS (Propaganda) News reported that it had obtained a copy of an intercepted letter dated July 29, 2008, from unnamed sources in Pakistan, which urgently requested a doctor to treat al-Zawahiri. The letter indicated that al-Zawahiri was critically injured in a US missile strike at Azam Warsak village in South Waziristan on July 28 that also reportedly killed al Qaeda explosives expert Abu Khabab al-Masri. Taliban Mehsud spokesman Maulvi Umar told the Associated Press on August 2, 2008, that the report of al-Zawahiri’s injury was false.
In early September 2008, Pakistan Army claimed that they “almost” captured al-Zawahiri after getting information that he and his wife were in the Mohmand Agency, in northwest Pakistan. After raiding the area, officials didn’t find him.
Emergence as al-Qaeda’s chief commander
On April 30, 2009, the American state department reported that Zawahiri had now emerged as al-Qaeda’s operational and strategic commander and that Osama bin Laden was now only the ideological figurehead of the organization.
Following the vile assassination of bin Laden, former “deputy national security advisor for combating terrorism” Juan Zarate said Zawahiri would “clearly assume the mantle of leadership” of al-Qaeda, the Western Wikipedia says.
Department of Monitoring