|Birth Day:||June 19, 1951|
|Birth Place:||Maadi, Egypt, Egypt|
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Ayman al-Zawahiri was born in 1951 in the neighborhood of Maadi, Cairo, in the then Kingdom of Egypt, to Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri and Umayma Azzam.
Ayman al-Zawahiri was reportedly a studious youth. Ayman excelled in school, loved poetry, and "hated violent sports" — which he thought were "inhumane." Al-Zawahiri studied medicine at Cairo University and graduated in 1974 with gayyid giddan. Following that, he served three years as a surgeon in the Egyptian Army after which he established a clinic near his parents in Maadi. In 1978, he also earned a master's degree in surgery. Ayman al-Zawahiri has also shown a radical understanding of Islamic theology and Islamic history. He speaks Arabic, English, and French.
In 1978, al-Zawahiri married his first wife, Azza Ahmed Nowari, a student at Cairo University who was studying philosophy. Their wedding, which was held at the Continental Hotel in Opera Square, was very conservative, with separate areas for both men and women, and no music, photographs, or humour. Many years later, when the United States attacked Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks in October 2001, Azza apparently had no idea that al-Zawahiri had supposedly been a jihadi emir (commander) for the last decade. In June 2012, one of Zawahiri's four wives, Umaima Hassan, released a statement on the internet congratulating the role played by Muslim women in the Arab Spring.
In 1981, Ayman al-Zawahiri traveled to Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, where he worked in a Red Crescent hospital treating wounded refugees. There he became friends with Ahmed Khadr, and the two shared a number of conversations about the need for Islamic government and the needs of the Afghan people.
In 1981, Al-Zawahiri was one of hundreds arrested following the assassination of President Anwar Sadat. Initially, the plan was derailed when authorities were alerted to Al-Jihad's plan by the arrest of an operative carrying crucial information, in February 1981. President Sadat ordered the roundup of more than 1500 people, including many Al-Jihad members, but missed a cell in the military led by Lieutenant Khalid Islambouli, who succeeded in assassinating Sadat during a military parade that October. His lawyer, Montasser el-Zayat, said that Zawahiri was tortured in prison.
In his book, Al-Zawahiri as I Knew Him, Al-Zayat maintains that under torture by the Egyptian police, following his arrest in connection with the murder of Sadat in 1981, Al-Zawahiri revealed the hiding place of Essam al-Qamari, a key member of the Maadi cell of al-Jihad, which led to Al-Qamari's "arrest and eventual execution."
Al-Zawahiri was convicted of dealing in weapons and received a three-year sentence, which he completed in 1984, shortly after his conviction.
Ayman al-Zawahiri worked in the medical field as a surgeon. In 1985, al-Zawahiri went to Saudi Arabia on Hajj and stayed to practice medicine in Jeddah for a year. As a reportedly qualified surgeon, when his organization merged with bin Laden's al-Qaeda, he became bin Laden's personal advisor and physician. He had first met bin Laden in Jeddah in 1986.
Al-Zawahiri and his wife, Azza, had four daughters, Fatima (born 1981), Umayma (born 1983), Nabila (born 1986), and Khadiga (born 1987), and a son, Mohammed (also born in 1987; the twin brother of Khadiga), who was a "delicate, well-mannered boy" and "the pet of his older sisters," subject to teasing and bullying in a traditionally all-male environment, who preferred to "stay at home and help his mother." In 1997, ten years after the birth of Mohammed, Azza gave birth to their fifth daughter, Aisha, who had Down syndrome. In February 2004, Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded and subsequently stated that Abu Turab Al-Urduni had married one of al-Zawahiri's daughters.
Former FBI agent Ali Soufan mentioned in his book The Black Banners that Ayman al-Zawahiri is suspected of being behind Azzam's assassination in 1989.
In Peshwar, al-Zawahiri is thought to have become radicalized by other Al-Jihad members, abandoning his old strategy of a swift coup d'état to change society from above, and embracing the idea of takfir. In 1991, EIJ broke with al-Zumur, and al-Zawahiri grabbed "the reins of power" to become EIJ leader.
In 1993, al-Zawahiri traveled to the United States, where he addressed several California mosques under his Abdul Mu'iz pseudonym, relying on his credentials from the Kuwaiti Red Crescent to raise money for Afghan children who had been injured by Soviet land mines—he only raised $2000.
In 1993, al-Zawahiri's and Egyptian Islamic Jihad's (EIJ) connection with Iran may have led to a suicide bombing in an attempt on the life of Egyptian Interior Minister Hasan al-Alfi, the man heading the effort to quash the campaign of Islamist killings in Egypt. It failed, as did an attempt to assassinate Egyptian prime minister Atef Sidqi three months later. The bombing of Sidqi's car injured 21 Egyptians and killed a schoolgirl, Shayma Abdel-Halim. It followed two years of killings by another Islamist group, al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, that had killed over 200 people. Her funeral became a public spectacle, with her coffin carried through the streets of Cairo and crowds shouting, "Terrorism is the enemy of God!" The police arrested 280 more of al-Jihad's members and executed six.
In 1994, the sons of Ahmad Salama Mabruk and Mohammed Sharaf were executed under al-Zawahiri's leadership for betraying Egyptian Islamic Jihad; the militants were ordered to leave the Sudan.
At some point in 1994, al-Zawahiri was said to have "become a phantom" but is thought to have traveled widely to "Switzerland and Sarajevo". A fake passport he was using shows that he traveled to Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
The 1995 attack on the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, was the Egyptian Islamic Jihad's first success under Zawahiri's leadership, but Bin Laden had disapproved of the operation. The bombing alienated Pakistan, which was "the best route into Afghanistan".
On December 1, 1996, Ahmad Salama Mabruk and Mahmud Hisham al-Hennawi – both carrying false passports – accompanied al-Zawahiri on a trip to Chechnya, where they hoped to re-establish the faltering Jihad. Their leader was traveling under the pseudonym Abdullah Imam Mohammed Amin, and trading on his medical credentials for legitimacy. The group switched vehicles three times, but were arrested within hours of entering Russian territory and spent five months in a Makhachkala prison awaiting trial. The trio pleaded innocence, maintaining their disguise and having other al-Jihad members from Bavari-C send the Russian authorities pleas for leniency for their "merchant" colleagues who had been wrongly arrested; and Russian Member of Parliament Nadyr Khachiliev echoed the pleas for their speedy release as al-Jihad members Ibrahim Eidarous and Tharwat Salah Shehata traveled to Dagestan to plead for their release. Shehata received permission to visit the prisoners, and is believed to have smuggled them $3000 which was later confiscated from their cell, and to have given them a letter which the Russians didn't bother to translate. In April 1997, the trio were sentenced to six months, and were subsequently released a month later and ran off without paying their court-appointed attorney Abulkhalik Abdusalamov his $1,800 legal fee citing their "poverty". Shehata was sent on to Chechnya, where he met with Ibn Khattab.
There have been doubts as to the true nature of al-Zawahiri's encounter with the Russians in 1996. Washington, D.C.-based Jamestown Foundation scholar Evgenii Novikov has argued that it seems unlikely that the Russians would not have been able to determine who he was, given their well-trained Arabists and the obviously suspicious act of Muslims crossing illegally a border with multiple false identities and encrypted documents in Arabic. Assassinated former FSB secret service officer Alexander Litvinenko alleged, among other things, that during this time, al-Zawahiri was indeed being trained by the FSB, and that he was not the only link between al-Qaeda and the FSB. Former KGB officer, speaker on the Voice of America and writer Konstantin Preobrazhenskiy supported Litvinenko's claim and said that Litvinenko "was responsible for securing the secrecy of Al-Zawahiri's arrival in Russia, who was trained by FSB instructors in Dagestan, Northern Caucasus, during 1996–1997."
In 1998, Ayman al-Zawahiri was listed as under indictment in the United States for his role in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings, a series of attacks that occurred on August 7, 1998, in which hundreds of people were killed in simultaneous truck bomb explosions at the United States embassies in the major East African cities of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. The attacks brought Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri to international attention.
In 1998, al-Zawahiri formally merged the Egyptian Islamic Jihad into al-Qaeda. According to reports by a former al-Qaeda member, he has worked in the al-Qaeda organization since its inception and was a senior member of the group's shura council. He was often described as a "lieutenant" to Osama bin Laden, though bin Laden's chosen biographer has referred to him as the "real brains" of al-Qaeda.
On February 23, 1998, al-Zawahiri issued a joint fatwa with Osama bin Laden under the title "World Islamic Front Against Jews and Crusaders". Zawahiri, not bin Laden, is thought to have been the actual author of the fatwa.
Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri organized an al-Qaeda congress on June 24, 1998. A week prior to the beginning of the conference, a group of well-armed assistants to al-Zawahiri had left by jeeps in the direction of Herat. Following the instructions of their patron, in the town of Koh-i-Doshakh, they met three unknown Slavic-looking men who had arrived from Russia via Iran. After their arrival in Kandahar, they split up. One of the Russians was directly escorted to al-Zawahiri and he did not participate in the conference. Western military intelligence succeeded in acquiring photographs of him, but he disappeared for six years. According to Axis Globe, in 2004, when Qatar and the U.S. investigated Russian embassy officials whom the United Arab Emirates had arrested in connection to the murder of Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev in Qatar, computer software precisely established that a man who had walked to the Russian embassy in Doha was the same one who visited al-Zawahiri prior to the Al-Qaida conference.
For their leading role in anti-Egyptian Government attacks in the 1990s, al-Zawahiri and his brother Muhammad al-Zawahiri were sentenced to death in the 1999 Egyptian case of the Returnees from Albania.
The massacre was so unpopular that no terror attacks occurred in Egypt for several years thereafter. Zawahiri was sentenced to death in absentia in 1999 by an Egyptian military tribunal.
Ayman has said that he has a deep affection for his mother. Her brother, Mahfouz Azzam, became a role model for Ayman as a teenager. Ayman has a younger brother, Muhammad al-Zawahiri, and a twin sister, Heba Mohamed al-Zawahiri. Al-Zawahiri's sister, Heba Mohamed al-Zawahiri, became a professor of medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute, Cairo University. She described her brother as "silent and shy". Muhammad worked in Bosnia, Croatia, and Albania under the cover of being an International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) official. While hiding in the United Arab Emirates, he was arrested in 2000, then extradited to Egypt, where he was sentenced to death. He was held in Tora Prison in Cairo as a political detainee. Security officials said he was the head of the Special Action Committee of Islamic Jihad, which organized terrorist operations. However, after the Egyptian popular uprising in the spring of 2011, on March 17, 2011, he was released from prison by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the interim government of Egypt. His lawyer said he had been held to extract information about his brother Ayman. However, on March 20, 2011, he was re-arrested. On August 17, 2013, Egyptian authorities arrested Muhammad al-Zawahiri at his home in Giza.
In 2000, the USS Cole bombing encouraged several members to depart. Mohammed Atef escaped to Kandahar, Zawahiri to Kabul, and Bin Laden also fled to Kabul, later joining Atef when he realised no American reprisal attacks were forthcoming.
On October 10, 2001, al-Zawahiri appeared on the initial list of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's top 22 Most Wanted Terrorists, which was released to the public by U.S. President George W. Bush. In early November 2001, the Taliban government announced they were bestowing official Afghan citizenship on him, as well as Bin Laden, Mohammed Atef, Saif al-Adl, and Shaykh Asim Abdulrahman.
In December 2001, al-Zawahiri published a book entitled Fursan Taht Rayat al Nabi (Knights Under the Prophet's Banner) which outlined ideologies of al-Qaeda. English translations of this book were published; excerpts are available online.
Following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, al-Zawahiri's whereabouts are unknown, but he is generally thought to be in tribal Pakistan. Although he releases videos of himself frequently (see Messages of Ayman al-Zawahiri), al-Zawahiri did not appear alongside bin Laden in any of them after 2003. In 2003, it was rumored that he was under arrest in Iran, although this was later discovered to be false. In 2004, the Pakistan Army launched an aggressive operation in Wana, Pakistan. Reports began to surface that he was trapped in the center of the conflict by the army. But when, after weeks of fighting, the army captured the area, it was later revealed that he either escaped or was never among the fighters. As the conflict spread into the tribal areas of western Pakistan, Ayman al-Zawahiri became a prime target of the ISI's Directorate for Joint Counterintelligence Bureau (J-COIN Bureau). However, despite a series of operations they were unable to capture him.
On January 13, 2006, the Central Intelligence Agency, aided by Pakistan's ISI, launched an airstrike on Damadola, a Pakistani village near the Afghan border where they believed al-Zawahiri was located. The airstrike was supposed to kill al-Zawahiri and this was reported in international news over the following days. Many victims of the airstrike were buried without being identified. Anonymous U.S. government officials claimed that some terrorists were killed and the Bajaur tribal area government confirmed that at least four terrorists were among the dead. Anti-American protests broke out around the country and the Pakistani government condemned the U.S. attack and the loss of innocent life. On January 30, a new video was released showing al-Zawahiri unhurt. The video discussed the airstrike, but did not reveal if al-Zawahiri was present in the village at that time.
In July 2007, Al-Zawahiri supplied direction for the Lal Masjid siege, codename Operation Silence. This was the first confirmed time that Al-Zawahiri was taking militant steps against the Pakistan Government and guiding Islamic militants against the State of Pakistan. The Pakistan Army troops and Special Service Group taking control of the Lal Masjid ("Red Mosque") in Islamabad found letters from al-Zawahiri directing Islamic militants Abdul Rashid Ghazi and Abdul Aziz Ghazi, who ran the mosque and adjacent madrasah. This conflict resulted in 100 deaths.
On December 27, 2007, al-Zawahiri was also implicated in the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
However, in public Zawahiri has harshly denounced the Iranian government. In December 2007 he said, "We discovered Iran collaborating with America in its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq." In the same video messages, he moreover chides Iran for "repeating the ridiculous joke that says that al-Qaida and the Taliban are agents of America," before playing a video clip in which Ayatollah Rafsanjani says, "In Afghanistan, they were present in Afghanistan, because of Al-Qa'ida; and the Taliban, who created the Taliban? America is the one who created the Taliban, and America's friends in the region are the ones who financed and armed the Taliban."
In mid-December 2007, al-Zawahiri's spokespeople announced plans for an "open interview" on a handful of Islamic Web sites. The administrators of 4 known jihadist web sites have been authorized to collect and forward questions, "unedited", they pledge, and "regardless of whether they are in support of or are against" al-Qaeda, which would be forwarded to al-Zawahiri on January 16. al-Zawahiri responded to the questions later in 2008; among the things he said were that al-Qaeda didn't kill innocents, and that al-Qaeda would move to target Israel "after expelling the occupier from Iraq".
In April 2008, Zawahiri blamed Iranian state media and Al-Manar for perpetuating the "lie" that "there are no heroes among the Sunnis who can hurt America as no-one else did in history" in order to discredit the Al Qaeda network. Zawahiri was referring to some 9/11 conspiracy theories according to which Al Qaeda was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
On August 1, 2008, CBS News reported that it had obtained a copy of an intercepted letter dated July 29, 2008, from unnamed sources in Pakistan, which urgently requested a doctor to treat al-Zawahiri. The letter indicated that al-Zawahiri was critically injured in a US missile strike at Azam Warsak village in South Waziristan on July 28 that also reportedly killed al Qaeda explosives expert Abu Khabab al-Masri. Taliban Mehsud spokesman Maulvi Umar told the Associated Press on August 2, 2008, that the report of al-Zawahiri's injury was false.
On April 30, 2009, the U.S. State Department reported that al-Zawahiri had emerged as al-Qaeda's operational and strategic commander and that Osama bin Laden was now only the ideological figurehead of the organization. However, after the 2011 death of bin Laden, a senior U.S. intelligence official was quoted as saying intelligence gathered in the raid showed that bin Laden remained deeply involved in planning: "This compound (where bin Laden was killed) in Abbottabad was an active command-and-control center for al-Qaeda's leader. He was active in operational planning and in driving tactical decisions within al-Qaeda."
As of 2 May 2011, he became the leader of al-Qaeda following the death of Osama bin Laden. This was confirmed by a press release from al-Qaeda's general command on June 16. Al-Zawahiri's succession to command of al-Qaeda was announced on several of their websites on June 16, 2011. On the same day, al-Qaeda renewed its position that Israel was an illegitimate state and that it wouldn't accept any compromise on Palestine.
In June 2013, al-Zawahiri arbitrated against the merger of the Islamic State of Iraq with the Syrian-based Jabhat al-Nusra into Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as was declared in April by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Abu Mohammad al-Julani, leader of al-Nusra Front, affirmed the group's allegiance to al-Qaeda and al-Zawahiri.
In September 2015, Zawahiri urged Islamic State (ISIL) to stop fighting al-Nusra Front, the official al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, and to unite with all other jihadists against the supposed alliance between America, Russia, Europe, Shiites and Iran, and Bashar al-Assad's Alawite regime.
Ayman al-Zawahiri released a statement supporting jihad in Xinjiang against Chinese, jihad in the Caucasus against the Russians and naming Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan as battlegrounds. Zawahiri endorsed "jihad to liberate every span of land of the Muslims that has been usurped and violated, from Kashgar to Andalusia, and from the Caucasus to Somalia and Central Africa". Uyghurs inhabit Kashgar, the city which was mentioned by Zawahiri. In another statement he said, "My mujahideen brothers in all places and of all groups ... we face aggression from America, Europe, and Russia ... so it's up to us to stand together as one from East Turkestan to Morocco". In 2015, the Turkistan Islamic Party (East Turkistan Islamic Movement) released an image showing Al Qaeda leaders Ayman al Zawahiri and Osama Bin Laden meeting with Hasan Mahsum.
Currently, Ayman al-Zawahiri is 71 years, 5 months and 13 days old. Ayman al-Zawahiri will celebrate 72nd birthday on a Monday 19th of June 2023.
Find out about Ayman al-Zawahiri birthday activities in timeline view here.