The brother-in-law of Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second in command, is reported to have been killed in Afghanistan earlier this year, according to an Islamist website.
Osama Hassan, whose sister, Omayma, is married to Zawahiri, was killed in Afghanistan sometime over the past several months, according to a martyrdom statement released by the Al Maqrizi Center for Historical Studies. The statement announcing Hassan’s death was published on April 18 at the Al Maqrizi Center’s website.
The Al Maqrizi Center is run by Hani al Sibia, who according to an Egyptian court was one of 14 members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad’s shura majlis, or executive council. Sibia, who has been designated as a terrorist by the United States and the United Nations, maintains close ties to Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Zawahiri’s organization which formally merged with al Qaeda in June 2001.
The exact date and location in Afghanistan where Hassan was killed was not disclosed in the martyrdom statement. Nor is it known how Hassan was killed.
According to the statement, Hassan sought asylum in the United Kingdom in 1998 and then traveled to Iran and then Afghanistan in 2001 with Mohammad Khalil Hasan al Hakaymah, who is better known as Abu Jihad al Masri. Hakaymah served as a top leader in the Egyptian Islamic Group, a rival group to Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Both Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Egyptian Islamic Group seek to overthrow the Egyptian government and impose an Islamic state. Hakaymah was the chief of al Qaeda’s intelligence shura prior to his death in a US Predator airstrike in Mir Ali, a terrorist haven in Pakistan’s tribal agency of North Waziristan.
Hassan’s role in al Qaeda or the Egyptian Islamic Group has not been disclosed; however, he appears to have been a key link in convincing the external faction of the Egyptian Islamic Group to join al Qaeda. Hakaymah became the emir, or leader, of the Egyptian Islamic Group after appearing on a videotape with Zawahiri in November 2006. On the tape, Hakaymah swore an oath of allegiance to Osama bin Laden and announced the merger of the Egyptian Islamic Group and al Qaeda.
While Hassan was a member of the Egyptian Islamic Group, his two sisters married senior leaders of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the death notice stated. As noted, Omayma, is currently married to Zawahiri. Prior to marrying Zawahiri, she was married to Tariq Anwar Sayyid Ahmad, who was described as the “Commander of Special Operations for the [Egyptian Islamic] Jihad group.” Ahmad was killed in Khost province, Afghanistan, sometime in 2001.
Omayma also has contributed to al Qaeda’s propaganda. In December 2009, As Sahab, Qaeda’s media arm, published “A Message to Muslim Sisters,” a statement from Omayma that offered advice to the wives of jihadists.
Another of Hassan’s sisters, who was not named, was married to Shawqi Salaama, an Egyptian Islamic Group member who “was sentenced to a life-term of hard labor in the case of ‘Returnees from Albania’,” according to Hassan’s martyrdom statement.