Is Bin Laden's Successor Dead? Reports Flood Social Media Over Ayman Al-Zawahiri's Fate

Published November 15th, 2020 - 10:12 GMT
Is Bin Laden's Successor Dead? Report Flood Social Media Over Ayman Al-Zawahiri's Fate
in 2001, the U.S. State Department had offered a $25 million reward for information leading to al-Zawahiri's capture. (Al Bawaba)

Unconfirmed reports have been hinting at the possible death of Al-Qaeda's chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who had succeeded Osama bin Laden after the latter's death in 2011. This news has been circulating online without any official statements so far.

Reports of Al-Zawahiri's demise were first tweeted by Syrian-American journalist Hassan Hassan, who said that the 69-year old Egyptian chief of Al Qaeda terrorist group "died about a month ago of natural causes."

According to Hassan, the word has been circulating amongst what he called "jihadi circles," noting that "some sources close to Hurras Al-Din also known as Guardians of Religion Organization, the Syrian group affiliated with Al Qaeda, have been treating these reports as confirmed."

None of the sources quoted have yet revealed any details about the location of Al-Zawahiri's reported death.

While no officials statements have been released yet by any government regarding the news, social media commentators have been contemplating names of possible successors of Al Zawahiri, saying that bin Laden's son, Hamza, is amongst the potential candidates, especially after the death of another high-ranking Al Qaeda leader a few months ago.

Two days ago, US media reported the death of Al Qaeda's second-highest-ranking militant, also an Egyptian called Abu Muhammad Al-Masri in an airstrike in Iran about three months ago. According to the NYT, the operation in which Al-Masri was killed was "led by Israeli agents who shot him in a Tehran street on the 7th of August 2020." 

According to many US media sources, Al-Masri was one of the main suspects of the blasts that hit the American Embassy in the Kenyan capital in 1998, killing more than 200 people. 

Ayman Al-Zawahiri was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1951 to a prosperous family. His father was a surgeon and a professor of pharmacy. He studied medicine at Cairo University and graduated in 1974 to work as a surgeon in the Egyptian Army.

The young doctor, who spoke Arabic, English, and French fluently, had also earned an MA degree in surgery, working for a private clinic he founded in Cairo before working in Saudi Arabia for a year in the 1980s, where he met with Osama Bin Laden.

Following the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. State Department had offered a $25 million reward for information leading to Al-Zawahiri's capture, but with no results. 


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