Who was Ayman al-Zawahiri? Al-Qaeda leader killed by US in a drone strike

Ayman al-Zawahiri took over the leadership of al-Qaeda after the killing of Osama Bin Laden by the US forces in May 2011. Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a drone strike by the US in last weekend’s attack in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Shailaja Tripathi

Ayman al-Zawahiri News: Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has been killed in a drone strike by the United States of America in Afghanistan, was often referred to as the Chief ideologue of al-Qaeda. Ayman al-Zawahiri, an eye surgeon who helped found the Egyptian Islamic Islamic Jihad militant group, took over the leadership of al-Qaeda after the killing of Osama Bin Laden by the US forces in May 2011. Before that Ayman al-Zawahiri was considered the right-hand man of Osama Bin Laden and as per some experts was the operational brains behind the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US.

Ayman al-Zawahiri was number two- behind only Osama Bin Laden- on the 22 most-wanted terrorist lists announced by the US Government in 2001 and had a $25m bounty on his head. Ayman al-Zawahiri, in the years after the attacks, emerged as Al-Qaeda’s most prominent spokesman. He appeared in 16 videos and audiotapes in 2007 as the group tried to radicalize and recruit Muslims around the world.

 Ayman al-Zawahiri’s killing in last weekend’s attack in Kabul was also not the first time that the US had sought to target him. Know more about Ayman al-Zawahiri net worth, education, association with al Qaeda, and other details.

Who was Ayman al-Zawahiri?

Ayman al-Zawahiri was an Egyptian-born Physician and theologian who was the leader of the terrorist group al-Qaeda from June 2011 until his death in July 2022. Ayman al-Zawahiri succeeded Osama Bin Laden following his death and was earlier a senior member of Islamist organizations which led attacks in Africa, Asia, North America, and Europe.

Ayman al-Zawahiri in 2012 also called on Muslims to kidnap Westerners in Muslim countries. After the September 11 attacks in the US, the government offered a $25 million reward for the information or intelligence leading to the capture of Ayman al-Zawahiri. He was also put under worldwide sanctions in 1999 by the UN’s Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee as a member of Al-Qaeda.

Ayman al-Zawahiri Family

Ayman al-Zawahiri was born on June 19, 1951, in the Capital of Egypt of Cairo, He came from a respectable middle-class family of doctors and scholars. Ayman al-Zawahiri’s grandfather, Rabia al-Zawahiri was the grand imam of al-Azhar, the center for Sunni Islamic learning in the Middle East. On the other hand, one of his uncles was the first Secretary General of the Arab league.

Ayman al-Zawahiri became involved in political Islam while he was still in school. He was arrested at the young age of 15 for being a member of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood which is Egypt’s oldest and largest Islamist Organisation.

Ayman al-Zawahiri’s political activities did not stop him from studying medicine at Cairo University’s Medical School. He graduated from there in 1974 and obtained a master's Degree in surgery four years later.

Zawahiri’s father Mohammed, who passed away in 1995, was a Pharmacology Professor at the same school. 

Ayman al-Zawahiri Radical Youth

Ayman al-Zawahiri continued the family tradition by building up a medical clinic in a suburb of Cairo, however, he soon became attracted to the radical Islamist Groups which were calling for the overthrow of the Egyptian Government. Ayman al-Zawahiri joined Egyptian Islamic Jihad which was founded in 1973.

In 1981, Ayman al-Zawahiri was rounded up along with hundreds of other suspected members of the group after several members of the group dressed as soldiers assassinated President Anwar Sadat. He had angered Islamist Activists by signing a peace deal with Israel.

Although Ayman al-Zawahiri was cleared of the involvement in Sadat’s assassination, he was convicted of the illegal possession of arms and served a three-year sentence.

After his release in 1985, Ayman al-Zawahiri left for Saudi Arabia. Afterward, he was headed for Peshawar in Pakistan and later to the neighboring Afghanistan where he established a faction of Egyptian Islamic Jihad while working as a doctor in the country during the Soviet Occupation.

Ayman al-Zawahiri: Leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad

Ayman al-Zawahiri took over the leadership of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad after it re-emerged in 1993. He was a key figure behind a series of attacks by the group on the Egyptian government ministers, including the Prime Minister.

The radical groups’ campaign to topple the government and set up an Islamic State in the country during the mid-1990s led to the deaths of more than 1,200 Egyptians.

In 1997, the US State Department named him the leader of the Vanguards of Conquest group. Two years later, Ayman al-Zawahiri was sentenced to death in absentia by an Egyptian Military court for his role in the group’s many attacks.

Ayman al-Zawahiri death

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a drone strike by the US Government in the Capital of Afghanistan, Kabul.

US President Joe Biden, in a televised address, said that he hoped Zawahiri’s death will bring closure to families of the 3,000 people killed in the United States on 9/11. The President also informed that there were no casualties in the operation that was conducted over the weekend.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, as per the US officials, was on the balcony of his Kabul residence when he was targeted with two Hellfire missiles on July 31, 2022. The apparent photographs of the building show windows blown out on one floor, however, the rest of the building appeared completely intact.

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