Who is Ayman al-Zawahiri?
Ayman al-Zawahiri, also known as Abd al-Muizz, was an Egyptian doctor and terrorist who became one of al-most Qaeda’s important theorists. He was born in Egypt on June 19, 1951, and died in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 31, 2022. Al-new Qaeda’s leader since 2011 is Zawahiri.
South of Cairo, in the Egyptian city of Ma’d, Zawahiri was reared. Zawahiri and his siblings were nurtured in a somewhat modest setting despite the fact that his parents came from well-known families. Zawahiri was a sincere young man. He was strongly affected as a student by the writings of Sayyid Qub, an Egyptian author who was a leading role in the modern Sunni Islamic renaissance. Zawahiri founded an organisation devoted to the destruction of the Egyptian government in favour of Islamic authority before the age of 15.
Later, Zawahiri pursued a surgical specialisation while attending the medical school at Cairo University, where he also maintained his illegal activities. After earning his degree in 1974, he worked as an army surgeon for three years. He went to Peshawar, Pakistan, in 1980–1981 as a Red Crescent relief worker to care for Afghan War refugee patients. He frequently travelled across the border into Afghanistan around that period, when he saw the fighting firsthand.
Who was Ayman al-Zawahiri?
Following the death of President Anwar Sadat in October 1981, Zawahiri was one of several hundred terrorists who were detained after returning to Egypt. Zawahiri received a three-year sentence after being found guilty of illegally possessing weapons. He was tortured at that time by intelligence agents who wanted to know details about his contacts; this experience made him more militant. Zawahiri was freed from jail in 1984. The next year, he travelled to Saudi Arabia, returned to Peshawar from Jiddah, and then continued on to Afghanistan. He met Osama bin Laden, a rich Saudi who had joined the Afghan struggle against the Soviets, during this time, and Zawahiri was present when al-Qaeda was established in 1988.
Zawahiri became the terrorist group Egyptian Islamic Jihad’s leader in the early 1990s (EIJ). Zawahiri finally moved in with Bin Laden in Sudan after he left in 1992. Attacks on Egyptian targets, including as government employees and the Egyptian embassy in Pakistan, and the training of militants both took place in Sudan. An attempt was made in June 1995 to kill Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak directly. Zawahiri, bin Laden, and their supporters were finally driven out of Sudan by international pressure.
Uncertainty surrounds Zawahiri’s subsequent travels, although it appears that he visited Switzerland, Bulgaria, and the Netherlands, among other nations in Europe. He was detained by Russian authorities in late 1996 when he attempted to enter Chechnya illegally in order to establish a new base for EIJ. Despite spending six months in prison, Russian operatives didn’t learn who he was until after his release.
Zawahiri and bin Laden established a formal partnership in 1998, and in June 2001, EIJ and al-Qaeda joined. Zawahiri had a strong connection to both the USS Cole bombing in October 2000 and the September 11 attacks. Zawahiri rapidly rose to the position of al-spokesperson, Qaeda’s providing criticism on topics including the 2003 American invasion of Iraq (see Iraq War) and the 2006 conflict between Hezbollah and Israel. While bin Laden purportedly served as a figurehead, the U.S. Department of State concluded in 2009 that Zawahiri looked to be al-top Qaeda’s decision-maker. Following the murder of bin Laden during an American commando assault in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the previous month, Zawahiri officially took over as the head of al-Qaeda in June 2011.