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Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was bin Laden’s deputy and a 9/11 planner: NPR


This still image obtained September 10, 2012 from IntelCenter shows Ayman al-Zawahiri speaking from an undisclosed location.

IntelCenter/AFP via Getty Images


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Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was bin Laden’s deputy and a 9/11 planner: NPR

This still image obtained September 10, 2012 from IntelCenter shows Ayman al-Zawahiri speaking from an undisclosed location.

IntelCenter/AFP via Getty Images

One of the last times al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was in the spotlight was some 40 years ago when international media captured his rants from a cage in the background of an Egyptian courtroom.

Cameras caught him screaming about the torture he and other prisoners suffered at the hands of Egyptian jailers. He launched the group chanting, “We are Muslims. We are Muslims.

Zawahiri’s time in prison in Egypt not only pitted him against the regime, but also marked the beginning of his lifelong hatred of the United States.

When he finally joined forces with Osama bin Laden, he passed on that enmity, but it ended for al-Zawahiri on Sunday local time in Afghanistan after an unmanned US drone fired two hellish missiles at a safe house in Kabul, killing him.

President Biden noted on Monday that al-Zawahiri was Osama bin Laden’s deputy during 9/11 and was “deeply involved in the planning.”

“For decades he was the mastermind of attacks on Americans,” Biden added, noting the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 and the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Biden also detailed al-Zawahiri’s role leading al-Qaeda since bin Laden was killed by US forces in 2011, including calling on his supporters in recent weeks to attack the US and its allies. .

Bruce Hoffman, director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University, said in 2011 that if al-Zawahiri had a reputation for being thorny and dogmatic, he could emerge as an even stronger leader than bin Laden.

“Unlike bin Laden, he had a reputation as a hard-line terrorist since his teenage years,” Hoffman said. “OK, he’s not as telegenic as bin Laden. He doesn’t have bin Laden’s charisma. He doesn’t have bin Laden’s melodious voice, but he’s still a very powerful figure within the movement. “

Bin Laden had spoken of creating a base for a broader Islamist movement as if it were a mantra. He wanted an organization that didn’t need him to survive. And al-Zawahiri maintained it in the decade since Bin Laden’s death.

A version of this profile, written by Dina Temple-Raston, first appeared on NPR on May 3, 2011.

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