Al-Qaeda has selected its longtime No. 2 to succeed Osama bin Laden following last month’s U.S. commando raid that killed the terror leader, according to a statement posted Thursday on a web site affiliated with the network.
Ayman al-Zawahri, who will turn 60 next week, is the son of an upper middle class Egyptian family of doctors and scholars.
His father was a pharmacology professor at Cairo University’s medical school and his grandfather was the grand imam of Al-Azhar University, a premier center of religious study..
In the statement, al-Qaeda “announces that Sheikh Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, may God guide him, assumed responsibility as the group’s amir”.
Al-Qaeda gave no details about the selection process for bin Laden’s successor but said that it was the best tribute to the memory of its “martyrs.”
Zawahiri is believed by some to have been the “operational brains” behind the 9/11 attacks on the US.
He was Bin Laden’s deputy for years and warned just over a week ago that Bin Laden would continue to “terrify” the US from beyond the grave.