Al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has died of natural causes in Afghanistan, according Afghanistan and Pakistan media on Friday.
Arab News quoted at least four security sources in Pakistan and Afghanistan as confirming al-Zawahiri’s death, adding that two of them said he was “dead”, but they spoke informally because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
“Al-Zawahiri, 69, last appeared in a video message on the anniversary of the September 11th attacks in the United States this year,” the report said.
According to a UN report on the activities of terrorist groups from around the world released last July, al-Qaeda was secretly active in 12 Afghan provinces and its leader al-Zawahiri was based in Afghanistan. The United Nations estimated the total number of Al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan at between 400 and 600.
“If this development is confirmed, it is likely to create a deep void in al-Qaeda’s leadership, with at least two senior commanders who were likely to be in line to replace him,” the paper said.
In addition, the New York Times reported last week that “the second al-Qaeda man, accused of helping to mastermind the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, was killed in Iran last August by Israeli agents acting on US orders.”
Abdullah Ahmad Abdullah, also known as Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was shot and killed in Tehran by an Israeli hit squad on a motorcycle, it was reported last week, according to the paper.