Who was Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri and why did the US kill him?

Who was Ayman al-Zawahiri?

An Egyptian, al-Zawahri was born June 19, 1951, to a comfortable family in a leafy, drowsy Cairo suburb.

Religiously observant from boyhood, he immersed himself in a violent branch of a Sunni Islamic revival that sought to replace the governments of Egypt and other Arab nations with a harsh interpretation of Islamic rule.

Al-Zawahri worked as an eye surgeon as a young adult, but also roamed Central Asia and the Middle East, witnessing Afghans’ war against Soviet occupiers in that country, and meeting young Saudi Osama bin Laden and other Arab militants rallying to help Afghanistan expel Soviet troops.

He was one of hundreds of militants captured and tortured in Egyptian prison after Islamic fundamentalists’ assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981. Biographers say the experience further radicalized him. Seven years later, al-Zawahri was present when bin Laden founded al-Qaida.

Al-Zawahri merged his own Egyptian militant group with al-Qaida. He brought al-Qaida organisational skill and experience honed underground in Egypt, evading Egyptian intelligence that allowed al-Qaida to organize cells of followers and strike around the world.

Why did the US killed Ayman al-Zawahiri?

In 1993, he took over the leadership of Islamic Jihad in Egypt and became a leading figure in a campaign in the mid-1990s to overthrow the government and set up a purist Islamic state. He was found to be involved in the killing of over 1,200 Egyptians. Years later, Zawahiri became number two on the list of “most wanted terrorists” announced by the US government in 2001.

In 1998, Zawahiri finally merged the Egyptian Islamic Jihad with Al-Qaeda. Zawahiri was indicted for his alleged role in the bombings of August 7, 1998, when nearly simultaneous bombs blew up in front of the American embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in Africa — 224 people died in the blasts, including 12 Americans, and more than 4,500 people were wounded.

The culmination of Zawahiri’s terror plotting came on September 11, 2001, when nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center and Pentagon. A fourth hijacked airliner, headed for Washington, crashed in a Pennsylvania field after passengers fought back. Both Zawahiri and Osama-bin-Laden escaped US forces in Afghanistan in late 2001.

US President Joe Biden confirmed by saying that, ‘Justice has been Served

Americans who lived through the 9/11 attacks may not remember al-Zawahri’s name, but many know his face, more than two decades on: a man in glasses, slightly smiling, invariably shown in photos by the side of bin Laden as the two arranged the strike on the United States.

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