• 18:39
  • Thursday ,16 June 2011
العربية

Ayman al-Zawahiri appointed as al-Qaeda leader

By-BBC

International News

00:06

Thursday ,16 June 2011

Ayman al-Zawahiri appointed as al-Qaeda leader

Al-Qaeda has appointed Ayman al-Zawahiri as leader following the death of Osama Bin Laden, the organisation's general command says in a statement.

Bin Laden was killed by US forces in Pakistan in early May.
In the statement, al-Qaeda "announces that Sheikh Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, may God guide him, assumed responsibility as the group's amir [leader]".
It warned it would continue to fight a jihad or holy war against the US and Israel under his direction.
The statement posted on a militant website was attributed to al-Qaeda's General Command and was disseminated by the al-Fajr Media Centre, the media wing of al-Qaeda Central.
Egyptian-born Zawahiri was for years Bin Laden's deputy and had been widely anticipated to replace him at the helm.
'Jihadist renaissance'
Thought to be in his late 50s, Zawahiri is believed by some experts to have been the "operational brains" behind the 9/11 attacks on the US.
Zawahiri warned just over a week ago that Bin Laden would continue to "terrify" the US from beyond the grave.
In a video message posted on the internet on 8 June, Zawahiri said al-Qaeda would continue to fight.
"The sheikh 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," Zawahiri 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."
For years, security analysts have suggested Zawahiri is most likely to be hiding in the Afghan-Pakistan border region.
However, Bin Laden and other key militant leaders who were also believed to be concealed there have instead been discovered in Pakistani towns and cities.
Bin Laden's killing by US special forces in a covert operation in the garrison town of Abbottabad on 2 May strained Washington's relations with Islamabad.
US President Barack Obama said "someone" was protecting Bin Laden, but Pakistan has denied any knowledge of Bin Laden's whereabouts and has arrested alleged CIA informants.