How he ‘transformed’ al Qaeda

   After bin Laden, the United States once again targeted another leader of Al Qaeda. On August 1, US President Biden announced that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed by a drone in Kabul, Afghanistan. Biden said al-Zawahiri was bin Laden’s deputy on 9/11, and that al-Zawahiri is also believed to be the mastermind of several other attacks, including the 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania case etc.
   Zawahiri has been an assistant to bin Laden since 1998. Zawahiri succeeded bin Laden after he was killed by the US military in 2011. While not as household name as bin Laden, he played a huge role in al Qaeda operations. In 2001, the FBI listed him as the second of 22 “world’s number one terrorists,” after bin Laden, and offered a $25 million reward for his capture. But al-Zawahiri has repeatedly survived American pursuits. U.S. forces raided his hideout in 2001, 2006 and 2007, all to no avail.
   Afghanistan local time at 6:18 a.m. on July 31. Zawahiri, 71, was standing on the balcony of a house in Kabul when two Hellfire missiles flew from a drone and hit him directly. U.S. intelligence has hunted for Zawahiri for years, but only in recent months has pinpointed his hiding place. Earlier this year, the United States learned that al-Zawahiri’s wife and children had been moved to a residence in Kabul, and later confirmed that al-Zawahiri also lived there. Zawahiri’s habit of standing on his balcony often exposes him to the sight of the U.S. military.
   Bin Laden brought charisma and funding to al-Qaeda, while al-Zawahiri provided tactical and organizational skills. Unlike bin Laden, who came from a wealthy business family, al-Zawahiri has been a complete terrorist since he was a teenager. In 1981, he was arrested for his involvement in the assassination of Egyptian President Sadat, and was eventually convicted of illegal possession of weapons and served three years in prison. It was this time of serving that turned him into a fanatical violent extremist. According to other inmates, Zawahiri was regularly tortured and beaten during his time in prison, an experience that further contributed to his radicalization, turning him not only against the Egyptian regime but also initiating a career of hatred for the United States.
   After his release in 1985, al-Zawahiri traveled to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he founded a sect of Egypt’s Islamic Jihad. Zawahiri took over the leadership after the resurgence of Islamic Jihad in Egypt in 1993. Under his leadership, the group launched a series of attacks on Egypt’s prime minister and ministers, killing more than 1,200 Egyptians in a campaign to overthrow the Egyptian government. His relationship with bin Laden dates back to the late 1980s. In 1998, al-Zawahiri merged his Islamic Jihad with bin Laden’s al-Qaeda, becoming bin Laden’s deputy and chief “Islamic theorist”. In the same year, bin Laden, al-Zawahiri and others issued a manifesto calling for the elimination of Americans around the world.
   After taking office in 2011, al-Zawahiri rebuilt al-Qaeda’s leadership in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Under his leadership, Al Qaeda took a “fragmented” and “networked” route, and established autonomous branch networks in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, North Africa, Somalia, Yemen and other countries. In the following 10 years, the group instigated or directly participated in a series of attacks in the above-mentioned areas.

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