Ayman al Zawahiri

Ayman al Zawahiri Biography.com

(1951–)
Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri trained as a surgeon before joining forces with Osama bin Laden and appearing on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list.

Synopsis

Ayman al Zawahiri received his master's degree in surgery from Cairo University before joining the radical Islamic Jihad to resist the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. This is where he met Osama bin Laden, the head of al Qaeda. After being detained for recruiting jihadists in Chechnya, and charged with the death of 62 tourists in Egypt, al Zawahiri made the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list.

FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists

Al Qaeda leader Ayman Muhammad Rabaie al-Zawahiri was born on June 19, 1951, in Maadi, Egypt. Born into an upper-class family of doctors and scholars, al Zawahiri was a studious boy who joined his first Islamist group at age 14. He graduated from Cairo University in 1974 and received his master's in surgery in 1978.

By 1979, al Zawahiri had joined the radical Islamic Jihad and had gone to Afghanistan to resist the Soviet Union's occupation. It was there that he met Osama bin Laden, the head of al Qaeda. By 1996, al Zawahiri was considered a terrorist threat to the United States and was detained for six months in Russia after trying to recruit jihadists in Chechnya. The following year, he was charged with the death of 62 tourists in Egypt and sentenced to death in absentia.

In 1998, al Zawahiri formally merged Egyptian Islamic Jihad into al Qaeda, issuing a joint statement with bin Laden. Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, al Zawahiri appeared on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list. His whereabouts remain unknown, although he is believed to be in tribal Pakistan where he regularly releases videos and statements.

In 2001, al Zawahiri published a book outlining al Qaeda ideology titled Knights Under the Prophet's Banner.

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