- "Bush, you must admit that you have been defeated in Iraq and that you are being defeated in Afghanistan and that you will soon be defeated in Palestine, with the help and strength of God."
- —Ayman al Zawahiri to President Bush
Ayman Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri, MB BCh (Arabic: أيمن محمد ربيع الظواهري ʾAyman Muḥammad Rabīʿ aẓ-Ẓawāhirī, born June 19th, 1951 - ) is an Egyptian physician, Islamic theologian and current leader of al-Qaeda. He was previously the second and last "emir" of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, having succeeded Abbud al-Zumar in the latter role when Egyptian authorities sentenced al-Zumar to life imprisonment. His wife and three of his six children were killed in an air strike on Afghanistan by US forces in late 2001, following the September 11 attacks on the USA. As of May 2nd, 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 16th. After the 9/11 attacks the U.S. State Department offered a US$25 million reward for information leading to al-Zawahiri's apprehension.
al-Zawahiri is reportedly a qualified surgeon; when his organization merged with bin Laden's al-Qaeda, he became bin Laden's personal adviser and physician. He had first met bin Laden in Jeddah in 1986. al-Zawahiri has shown a radical understanding of Islamic theology and Islamic history. He speaks Arabic, English and French. He is under worldwide sanctions by the United Nations Security Council 1267 Committee as a member or affiliate of al-Qaeda. 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 June 16th, 2011, al-Qaeda announced that al-Zawahiri had been selected as bin Laden's successor as al-Qaeda's former leader had been killed.