Who Was Ayman al-Zawahiri? Top Al Qaeda Leader Who Was Groomed by Laden Killed in CIA Airstrike

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in an airstrike carried out by the CIA in the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday. Al-Zawahiri had taken over the reigns of the terror group since the death of Osama Bin Laden during a Seal Team Six operation in 2011.

The 71-year-old was on FBI's most wanted list as one of the masterminds behind the deadly September 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Ayman al-Zawahiri
Ayman al-Zawahiri with Osama Bin Laden. Twitter

Al-Zawahiri Was a Trained Doctor

Washington Post reported that the Al-Zawahiri was a trained doctor who got into the terror activities at the age of 15 after he formed an underground cell called Jamaat al-Jihad, or the Jihad Group, with an intention to overthrow Egypt's government for an Islamic theocracy. The same group was involved in the assassination of Egypt's President Anwar Sadat in October 1981.

Born in an upper middle class family in Egypt, the 71-year-old first met Laden at a clinic sponsored by the Muslim Brotherhood to help refugees and those fighting against the Soviet union at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Zawahiri who treated Laden for his chronic problems including low blood pressure, became his primary physician.

The outlet further reported that the slain terrorist had also hatched a plan to attack foreign tourists at Luxor in 1997. The deadly attack left 62 people dead at the popular Egyptian tourist destination. After joining Al-Qaeda al-Zawahiri issued a manifesto in 1998 threatening the Americans. "To kill Americans and their allies — civilian and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in every country in which it is possible to do it," al-Zawahiri wrote.

Al-Zawahiri Had Developed a Biological Weapons Program

Claiming that post 9/11 attacks on the U.S. soil al-Zawahiri had initiated a biological weapons program, New York Post reported that that lab for the same was set up in Afghanistan. It was also claimed that the mastermind, who was looking for lethal strains of anthrax bacteria, had also launched a search for like-minded scientists.

However, his ambitious plan was shattered after US bombers blasted the homes and offices of Al Qaeda's leaders, including al-Zawahiri's compound. The attack also left al-Zawahiri's wife, Azza Nowair, dead after she died of hypothermia after getting stuck in the rubble following the roof collapse. The couple had six children.

In a video released in September 2021, al-Zawahiri is heard saying, "Just as they have come together from all corners of the world to fight us. We must hit them hard everywhere."