Will Al-Zawahri be the chosen one to lead the al-Qaeda?

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Islamabad, May 2: With the death of al-Qaeda kingpin Osama Bin Laden, the US is rejoicing in having made a considerable breakthrough in the 'war against terror'. But the al-Qaeda is already contemplating on who would continue terrorism's deadly path. With talks on succession plans making the rounds within the group, it is most likely that Egyptian-born doctor and surgeon Ayman al-Zawahri will succeed the post.

The man considered to be the brain behind many al-Qaeda operatives and widely considered the public face of the dreaded terror group, Zawahri has featured in many video recordings unleashing his fury against the Western world. Recently Zawahri has been quoted as saying, "I want to direct the attention of our Muslim brothers in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and the rest of the Muslim countries, that if the Americans and the NATO forces enter Libya then their neighbors in Egypt and Tunisia and Algeria and the rest of the Muslim countries should rise up and fight both the mercenaries of Gaddafi and the rest of NATO."

He also features in FBI's most wanted list and has been successful in evading capture when the US charged into Afghanistan toppling the Taliban government. After the primary command of Osama exists no more, there has been no news of Zawahri yet.

In a aggressive Sept 2009 video on the Obama administration, he said, "America has come with a new deceptive face ... It plants the same dagger as Bush and his predecessors did. Obama has resorted to the policies of his predecessors in lying and selling illusions." Analysts have called him al-Qaeda's chief organizer and bin Laden's closest mentor. The relationship between Zawahri and Osama is believed to have started way back in 1980's and shared a common sentiment and met in the Pakistani city of Peshawar where they were supporting guerrillas fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan.

Zawahri's early days:

Born as the son of a pharmacology professor and the grandson of the grand imam of Al Azhar, one of the most reputed mosques in the world, Zawahri was born in 1951. With a degree from Egypt's medical school and another one specialising in surgery, he was closely associated with Muslim Brotherhood, pursuing the cause of a single Islamic state. He later joined the Egyptian Islamic Jihad that was founded in 1973. The group was responsible for the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981 and Zawahri was one among the 301 people arrested in this regard.

He took over jihadist operations in Egypt in 1993 and worked tirelessly towards the establishment of the Islamic state. With many charges in his name he was considered responsible for the bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Zawahri's wife, Azza and three daughters were reportedly killed in a bombing strike on Kandahar in Afghanistan in Dec 2001. Acting as a spokesperson in the video and audio messages he publicly praised Taliban fighters who carried out an attack in London in 2005.

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