Al-Zawahiri named new al-Qaeda leader

By Laurie Bennett

June 16, 2011 at 8:14am

Ayman al-Zawahiri, longtime No. 2 in Al-Qaeda, has moved into the top leadership position.

Al-Qaeda released a statement Thursday saying Zawahiri had assumed the post left empty by the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 2.

“The general command of Al Qaeda announces, after consultations, the appointment of Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahrii as head of the group,” the statement said, according to a translation by Al Jazeera. “We seek with the aid of God to call for the religion of truth and incite our nation to fight.”

Ayman al-Zawahiri
Ayman al-Zawahiri

Zawahiri, 59, is an Egyptian who served as a surgeon in the Egyptian Army and the Red Crescent Society.

The founder of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, he has been indicted in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.

Like his predecessor, he comes from a connected family. His grandfather, Abdul Wahhab Azzam, was president of Cairo University and founded King Saud University. He was also Egyptian ambassador to Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

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