Ayman Al Zawahiri

Ayman Al Zawahiri books and biography


Ayman al-Zawahiri


Born June 19, 1951
Maadi, Cairo, Egypt
Group photo of Ayman Al Zawahiri, Usama Bin Laden & Abu Hafs Prosecution Trial Exhibit from the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui
Group photo of Ayman Al Zawahiri, Usama Bin Laden & Abu Hafs Prosecution Trial Exhibit from the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui

Ayman al-Zawahiri (Arabic: ايمن الظواهري‎) (born June 19, 1951) is a prominent member of the al-Qaeda group, a physician, author, poet, and formerly the head of the militant organization Egyptian Islamic Jihad. He speaks Arabic, French, and English. He is considered a terrorist by many nations including the United States.

He uses many aliases, including: Abu Muhammad (Abu Mohammed), Abu Fatima, Muhammad Ibrahim, Abu Abdallah, Abu al-Mu'iz, The Doctor, The Teacher, Nur, Ustaz, Abu Mohammed Nur al-Deen, Abdel Muaz (Abdel Moez, Abdel Muez).

In 1998 he formally merged 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 is often described as a "lieutenant" to the head of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden. It is also assumed that al-Zawahiri serves as bin Laden's doctor.[citation needed] He is allegedly a supporter of Takfir wal-Hijra.[citation needed]


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Ayman al-Zawahiri was born to a prominent middle class family in Maadi, Egypt, a suburb of Cairo, and was reportedly a studious youth. His father was a pharmacologist. By fourteen he had joined an Islamist group called the Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin), and had become a student and follower of Sayyid Qutb. Al-Zawahiri studied behavior, psychology and pharmacology as part of his medical degree at Cairo University. By 1979 he had moved on to the much more radical Islamic Jihad, where he eventually became one of its leading organizers and recruiters. He was one of hundreds arrested following the assassination of Anwar Sadat. Al-Zawahiri's lawyer Muntasir Al-Zayyat contends that Zawahiri was tortured in prison.[1] [2] However, the Egyptian government was unable to prove any connection between al-Zawahiri and the assassination and he was released after serving jail time for illegal arms possession.[citation needed]

In the 1980s he journeyed to Afghanistan to participate in the mujahideen resistance against the Soviet Union's occupation. There he met Osama bin Laden, who was running a base for mujahideen called Maktab al-Khadamat (MAK); both of them worked under the tutelage of the Palestinian Abdullah Yusuf Azzam; later when the MAK fractured al-Zawahiri joined bin Laden in organizing the al-Qaeda group.

In 1990 al-Zawahiri returned to Egypt, where he continued to push Islamic Jihad in more radical directions employing knowledge and tactics learned in Afghanistan.

In 1996, he was considered the most credible threat and a highly lethal terrorist who could strike against the USA. A warning issued at the time specified suicide bombing as the likely form of attack. In late 1996 he was detained in Russia for six months by the FSB after he apparently tried to recruit jihadists in Chechnya. According to the FSB spokesman Sergei Ignatchenko, "He had four passports, in four different names and nationalities. We checked him out in every country, but they could not confirm him. We could not keep him forever, so we took him to the Azerbaijani border and let him go." In 1997 he was held responsible for the massacre of 62 foreign tourists in the Egyptian town of Luxor (November 1997 Luxor massacre), for which he was sentenced to death in absentia in 1999 by an Egyptian military tribunal.

On February 23, 1998, he issued a joint fatwa with Osama bin Laden under the title "World Islamic Front Against Jews and Crusaders", an important step in broadening their conflicts to a global scale.

On October 10, 2001 Dr. al-Zawahiri appeared on the initial list of the FBI's top 22 Most Wanted Terrorists, which was released to the public by President Bush.

In December 2001, he published the book Knights Under the Prophet's Banner outlining al-Qaeda ideology.[3] English translations of this book were published, but are currently difficult to locate due to security reasons. However, extracts are available online.[4] He is also currently working on another book.[citation needed]

Following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, al-Zawahiri's whereabouts are unclear. It seems likely he stays with bin Laden in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. On December 3, 2001, airstrikes were launched on a complex of caves near Jalalabad. Zawahiri's wife, Azza, and their three children were reportedly killed in the attack.

On January 13, 2006, the CIA launched an airstrike on Damadola, a Pakistani village near the Afghan border, where they believed al-Zawahiri was located. The airstrike killed eight men, five women and five children but Al-Zawahiri was not killed. Many victims were buried without being identified. Anonymous U.S. government officials claimed that some terrorists 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 Pakistan's government condemned the U.S. attack and the loss of innocent life. On January 30th 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.

Pakistani intelligence sources [5] confirmed that Zawahiri was the target of a Predator missile strike October 30, 2006 on a madrassa in Pakistan.


Video messages

  • Early September 2003 - A video showing al-Zawahiri and bin Laden walking together, as well as an audiotape, is released to the al-Jazeera network.
  • September 9, 2004 - Another video is released announcing more assaults.
  • August 4, 2005 - He issues a televised statement blaming Tony Blair and his government's foreign policy for the July 2005 London bombings.
  • September 1, 2005 - al-Jazeera broadcasts a video message from Mohammed Sidique Khan, one of bombers of the London metro. His message is followed by another message from al-Zawahiri, blaming again Blair for the bombings.
  • December 7, 2005 - The full 40 minute interview from September is posted on the Internet with previously unseen video footage. See below for links.
  • January 6, 2006 - al-Zawahiri says U.S. President Bush's plan to withdraw troops from Iraq means Washington had been defeated in Iraq. al-Zawahiri is quoted as saying, "Bush, you must confess that you have been defeated in Iraq and in Afghanistan and you will be in Palestine soon." al-Zawahiri also conveys his condolences to the people of Pakistan struck by the catastrophic 2005 Kashmir Earthquake.
  • January 30, 2006 - In a video broadcast by al-Jazeera, he mocks Bush and brands him the "Butcher of Washington." The video also proves that he was not killed in a recent Pakistan airstrike. al-Zawahiri promises that the next terrorist attack would be on U.S. soil. CNN Transcript
  • April 27, 2006 - al-Zawahiri says in a video that the terror network's branch in Iraq has succeeded in "breaking the back" of the U.S. military with hundreds of suicide bombings.[6]
  • June 9, 2006 - In a video broadcast by al-Jazeera, he praises the work of the al-Qaeda in Iraq leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed by two 500lbs. bombs in an isolated safehouse in Baquba, Iraq. In the following statements, al-Qaeda still proposes to carry out imminent terrorist attacks including New York and London.
  • June 22, 2006 - al-Zawahiri urged Afghans to fight foreign soldiers in Afghanistan [7]
  • July 7, 2006 - One year after the train bombings in London Ayman al-Zawahiri reveals that two of the suicide bombers were trained by al-Qaeda in Pakistan.
  • July 27, 2006 - al-Zawahiri shows his support for the insurgents in Gaza and South-Lebanon.[8]
  • August 5, 2006 - al-Qaeda has joined forces with the long-quiet Egyptian militant group al-Jamaa Islamiya, according to a videotaped message, saying that the two groups will form "one line, facing its enemies."[9]
  • September 10, 2006 - A video-interview with al-Zawahiri of over an hour length is published on several internet sites. He makes reference to the situations in Gaza, Lebanon, Somalia and to the historic figure Dr. Brydon. [10] On the fifth anniversary of his terror network's most infamous attacks, al-Zawahiri appears in a video carried by al-Jazeera. The video follows others appearing in the weeks before, but makes specific reference to recent events in Lebanon and the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers by militants. Ayman al-Zawahiri warns of new attacks in the Persian Gulf and Israel.[11][12]
  • September 29, 2006 - al-Zawahiri commented in a videomessage on the recent Pope Benedict XVI Islam controversy. He called the pope a charlatan, but didn't call for any action.


Reward offered by the U.S.

  • The U.S. Department of State is offering a reward of up to US$25 million for information leading directly to the apprehension or conviction of Ayman al-Zawahiri. He is wanted for his alleged role in the August 7, 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. He is still at large.


In popular culture

  • In May 2006, al-Zawahiri was depicted in two episodes of the American TV comedy South Park, Cartoon Wars Part I and Cartoon Wars Part II.



  1. ^ "In his book, Al-Zawahiri as I Knew Him, lawyer Muntasir Al-Zayyat maintains that under torture of the Egyptian police, following his arrest in connection with the murder of President Sadat in 1981, Al-Zawahiri revealed the hiding place of Al-Qamari which led to his arrest and eventual execution"
    Raphaeli, Nimrod (Winter 2002). "Ayman Muhammad Rabi' Al-Zawahiri: The Making of an Arch Terrorist". Terrorism and Political Violence 14 (4): 1-22. Cited in Ayman Muhammad Rabi' Al-Zawahiri. The Jewish Virtual Library (2003-03-11). Retrieved on 2006-08-29.
  2. ^ "Dr Zawahiri had been imprisoned and, according to friends, beaten frequently after the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981."
    Bowcott, Owen (2003-01-24). Torture trail to September 11: A two-part investigation into state brutality opens with a look at how the violent interrogation of Islamist extremists hardened their views, helped to create al-Qaida and now, more than ever, is fuelling fundamentalist hatred.. The Guardian. Retrieved on 2006-08-29.
  3. ^ Aboul-Enein, Youssef H. (Jan-Feb 2005). "Ayman Al-Zawahiri's Knights under the Prophet's Banner: the al-Qaeda Manifesto". Military Review. Retrieved on 2006-08-29.
  4. ^ ['s%202001%20book%20extracts.htm Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Publishes Extracts from Al-Jihad Leader Al-Zawahiri's New Book] (2001-02-12). Retrieved on 2006-08-29.
  5. ^ Blog
  6. ^ Ayman al-Zawahiri "A Message to the People of Pakistan" (2006) As-Sahab media at internet archive
  7. ^ Profile: Ayman al-Zawahiri al-Jazeera
  8. ^ al-Zawahiri urges attacks on Israel al-Jazeera 2006-07-27
  9. ^ al-Zawahiri: Egyptian militant group joins al Qaeda CNN
  10. ^ CNN report10 September 2006
  11. ^ Al-Qaeda issues 9/11 anniversary warning al-Jazeera 2006-09-11
  12. ^ New al-Qaeda warning marks 9/11 BBC 2006-09-11


External links

  • Russia and the Iranian Bomb, by J. R. Nyquist
  • New Yorker story about Ayman, by Lawrence Wright
  • Rewards for Justice - Most Wanted Terrorists
  • Fatwa from World Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders - Statement with bin Laden, 23 February 1998
  • Nimrod Raphaeli's Biography of al-Zawahiri from Terrorism and Political Violence 14:4 (Winter 2002) 1-22.
  • FBI's Ayman al-Zawahiri "Most Wanted Terrorists" poster
  • Al-Zawahiri: US faces Afghan, Iraq defeat (Aljazeera, 09 September 2004)
  • Excerpts and video footage released December 1, 2005 from the September 2005 interview
  • CNN's report on the January 2006 al-Zarqawi video tape
  • USA Director of National Intelligence: Letter from al-Zawahiri to al-Zarqawi
  • Extracts from Knights Under the Prophet's Banner

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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