Articles

May 01, 2006

Ayaman al Zawahiri mini bio in TIME

HEADLINE: Ayman al-Zawahiri;
How He Became Bin Laden’s No. 1

BYLINE: Peter Bergen

BODY:


Ayman al-Zawahiri, a cerebral Egyptian surgeon who joined his first jihadist cell at age 15, is as much the force behind al-Qaeda as his more famous friend Osama bin Laden. When the two first met in Pakistan in 1986, al-Zawahiri made a powerful impression on the younger, inexperienced Saudi millionaire. Within a couple of years, bin Laden was funding al-Zawahiri’s militant group Al Jihad, while Egyptian militants close to al-Zawahiri were helping bin Laden found al-Qaeda. That was the beginning of a powerful symbiotic relationship that continues to this day.

In the past year or so, al-Zawahiri, 54, has increasingly become the public face and voice of al-Qaeda while bin Laden has ceded the spotlight to his deputy. It was al-Zawahiri who wrote a letter to al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi, gently suggesting that he stop his habit of beheading hostages because it was turning off many Muslims. In recent months al-Zarqawi has stopped the beheadings. Following the 9/11 attacks, bin Laden released more than 15 audio- and videotapes. But recently he has sharply cut back, releasing only two tapes since December 2004, apparently fearing the U.S. could locate him by tracing back a tape’s chain of custody. Meanwhile, al-Zawahiri has released seven tapes. His high profile may account for the Jan. 13 U.S. missile strike on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border aimed at killing him. The attack killed four al-Qaeda members but not al-Zawahiri, who appeared on videotape two weeks later, taunting President Bush and defiantly proclaiming himself alive.

Bergen is the author of The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda’s Leader

MORE ARTICLES »

UPCOMING EVENTS

Wednesday, September, 18, 2019 Global SOF Forum, New America DC

Tuesday, October, 15, 2019 Global Security Forum, Doha, Qatar

Tuesday, November, 19, 2019 Al Qaeda Today, 9/ 11 Memorial Museum, NYC

Thursday, November, 21, 2019 2019 Modern Warfare Symposium, Ft. Bragg, NC

Tuesday, January, 28, 2020 2020 IFDA Dairy Forum, Scottsdale AZ

Wednesday, March, 04, 2020 Suli Forum, Suli, Iraq

Tuesday, April, 28, 2020 Future Security Forum, DC

MORE EVENTS »

RECENT FILM AND TV SERIES

2018

Six

2017

LEGION OF BROTHERS, CNN Films

2016

"We Got Him": President Obama, Bin Laden, and the Future of the War on Terror, CNN

ALL FILMS »