Zawahiri’s brother-in-law killed in Afghanistan

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.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Eric says:

    Great news! If it was a NATO or Afghan operation that led to his death, that means we are getting close to Ayman al Zawahiri. Hopefully, we will find clues to his exact wherebouts. Get Zawahiri and then you have the top dog Bin Laden.

  • Soccer says:

    If you kill Bin Laden, then you leave Zawahiri sitting at number 2. Experts and analysts believe has too big of an ego to lead Al Qaeda as a global organization, and would thus lead to infighting and the breakdown of jihadi relationships around the world.
    Killing his brother in law doesn’t mean we are close to him. It simply means that his brother in law was sent over the border, or he had the guts to go over the border and die while Ayman was relaxing on the other side of the border, untouched.
    That is how the elite jihadis operate: send other morons to die for your political goals while you talk a bunch of smack and reap the benefits of having so
    many morons at your disposal who will believe anything you say.

  • Neonmeat says:

    Unfortunately as it seems that this death was incidental rather than a targeted ISAF operation I doubt whether we are actually any closer to getting Zawahiri after this. If we had been trying to kill him I would have expected the Allies to release a press release detailing his death. Still this is good news another member of the ‘elite’ leadership snuffed out.

  • mehtevas says:

    Bill: Is it unusual for martyrdom statements to not have location/circumstances of how the death occurred?
    “Our 2i/c was killed, somehow, somewhere, that is all.”
    Appears fairly weak on the propaganda front.


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