Al-Qaida has selected its longtime number two to succeed Osama bin Laden after last month’s US commando raid that killed the terror leader, according to a statement posted on a website affiliated with the network.
Ayman al-Zawahri, who will turn 60 next week, is the son of an upper middle class Egyptian family of doctors and scholars.
His father was a pharmacology professor at Cairo University’s medical school and his grandfather was the grand imam of Al-Azhar University, a leading centre of religious study.
Al-Qaida gave no details about the selection process for bin Laden’s successor but said that it was the best tribute to the memory of its “martyrs”.
In a videotaped eulogy released released earlier this month, al-Zawahri warned that America faces not individual terrorists or groups but an international community of Muslims that seek to destroy it and its allies.
“Today, praise God, America is not facing an individual, a group or a faction,” he said, wearing a white robe and turban with an assault rifle leaned on a wall behind him. “It is facing a nation than is in revolt, having risen from its lethargy to a renaissance of jihad.”