Saif al Adel, an Egyptian-born member of Al-Qaeda, has become the acting leader of the terror organization, according to a United Nations report published Monday.
"Member States’ predominant view is that Saif al Adel is now the de facto leader of Al-Qaida, representing continuity for now," the report states.
There are, though, a couple of facts that inhibit the UN's ability to confirm al Adel's leadership, they write. First, Al-Qaida is heedful of the Taliban's position of not acknowledging the death of the previous Al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Zawahiri was killed in late July of 2022.
Second, al Adel is known to be in Iran, a fact that the UN report says "raises questions that have a bearing on Al-Qaida’s ambitions to assert leadership of a global movement in the face of challenges from ISIL."
Nevertheless, numerous UN member states have viewed, since late last year, that al Adel had assumed the leadership role and that this was uncontested within the organization, the UN reported.
Still, various explanations have been floated to address why al Adel's leadership remains undeclared, but one reason that most believed to be highly relevant relates to al Adel's presence in Iran which the UN describes a bringing up "difficult theological and operational questions for Al-Qaida."
Who is Saif al Adel?
A list comprised of individuals and entities sanctioned by the UN security council that includes al Adel places him at either 62 or 65 years of age. It goes on to list the place of birth of the new Al-Qaeda leader as the Menofia Governorate, Egypt, an area just north of Cairo.
According to the FBI, he is wanted for his connection to the bombing of the US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya on August 7, 1988.
Additionally, al Adel has other aliases including Muhamad Ibrahim Makkawi, Ibrahim Al-Madani and Muhamad Salah al-din al-Halim Zaydan.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, the spokesperson for the US State Department, Ned Price, fielded questions from reporters on various regional topics and figures, including al Adel. The state Department Spokesperson confirmed the US's agreement with the UN's assessment that the al-Qaeda leader is in Iran.
However, Price added that the US is"prepared, willing, and able to take action ourselves if [necessary]. I think you saw that perhaps most vividly late last year when the United States took out the then-leader of al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was being provided safe haven in Kabul."
Price added that regarding al Adel's presence in Iran, it is simply "another indication of Iran’s provision of support to international terrorist groups [and] its wide-ranging actions that only serve to destabilize the region."