Bin Laden's right-hand man Zawahri named al-Qaida chief ‎

Ayman al-Zawahri takes command of al-Qaida; vows to continue to fight to "expel invaders from the land of Muslims and to purify it from injustice."

June 16, 2011 12:25
2 minute read.
Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri

Zawahri 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

DUBAI - Ayman al-Zawahri has taken command of al-Qaida after the May killing of Osama bin Laden, an Islamist website said on Thursday.

Long known as bin Laden's lieutenant and the brains behind many of al-Qaida's operations, Egyptian-born Zawahri vowed earlier this month to press ahead with al Qaida's campaign against the United States and its allies.

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Al-Qaida's Zawahri: US facing rebellious Muslims

"The general leadership of al-Qaida group, after the completion of consultation, announces that Sheikh Dr. Ayman Zawahri, may God give him success, has assumed responsibility for command of the group," the Islamist website Ansar al-Mujahideen (Followers of the Holy Warriors) said in a statement.

The bespectacled Zawahri had been seen as bin Laden's most likely successor after the man held responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington was shot dead by US commandos in Pakistan 45 days ago.

His whereabouts are unknown, although he has long been thought to be hiding along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The United States is offering a $25 million reward for any information leading to his capture or conviction.

Believed to be in his late 50s, Zawahri met bin Laden in the mid-1980s when both were in Pakistan to support guerrillas fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. Born to an upper-class Cairo family, Zawahri trained as a doctor and surgeon.

"A worthy successor to a great predecessor. We ask God to grant you and your soldiers success for the victory of Islam and Muslims and to raise the banner of religion," a contributor to another Islamist militant website, As-Ansar, said in a posting.

In a video message posted on the internet on June 8, Zawahri said al-Qaida would continue to fight.

"The Sheikh (bin Laden) has departed, may God have mercy on him, to his God as a martyr, and we must continue on his path of jihad to expel the invaders from the land of Muslims and to purify it from injustice," Zawahri said.

"Today, and thanks be to God, America is not facing an individual or a group ... but a rebelling nation which has awoken from its sleep in a jihadist renaissance challenging it wherever it is."

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