Al Qaeda appoints Ayman al Zawahiri successor to bin Laden


Ayman al Zawahiri, in his videotape eulogizing Osama bin Laden. Image courtesy of the SITE Intelligence Group.

Al Qaeda’s central command has appointed Ayman al Zawahiri, the longtime deputy of Osama bin Laden, as the official leader of the terror group. Al Qaeda also said it would continue to fight in Afghanistan under the leadership of Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

The announcement of Al Qaeda’s appointment of Zawahiri as emir appeared in a statement that was produced by As Sahab, the terror group’s official media production arm, and released today on several jihadist forums. The message, titled “Statement on the Succession of Sheikh Osama bin Laden and the Command of al Qaeda,” made it clear that Zawahiri was appointed by al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis, or executive council, and outlined seven “principles” to guide the terror group moving forward.

“And as the best form of gratitude for the righteous martyr and for the life of the mujahid Sheikh Usama bin Laden is to continue on the path of jihad in the Cause of Allah, and to help the Muslims and the weak, the General Command of Qaedat al Jihad – and after the completion of consultation – announces that Sheikh Dr. Abu Muhammad Ayman al-Zawahiri, may Allah grant him success, has assumed the responsibility of the leadership of the group,” the statement said, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Al Qaeda’s appointment of Zawahiri as its leader takes place more than a week after Zawahiri issued an official eulogy for Osama bin Laden, the terror group’s co-founder and longtime leader who was killed in a US special operations raid at a safehouse in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2.

In the days after bin Laden’s death, al Qaeda had designated Saif al Adel, its senior military leader and strategist and a key member of the external operations council, as its interim emir. Both Zawahiri and al Adel were considered to be two of the top contenders to replace bin Laden.

The seven principles set forth in al Qaeda’s statement today began with a call for followers to remain united and seek consensus. The message went on to urge adherents to undertake the following: continue to call Muslims to perform “the obligatory duty of jihad”; remain a pan-Muslim movement; work to free their followers from prison; support the so-called “Arab Spring” uprisings in the Middle East; “cooperate with everyone who is working to help Islam, in the Islamic organizations and groups, or those outside of them”; and aid the “oppressed.”

Al Qaeda said that it remains at the service of Mullah Omar and promised to continue to fight with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“We assure our brothers in Afghanistan that we are with them with our lives and with what we own, under the leadership of the Emir of the Believers Mullah Muhammad Omar Mujahid, may Allah protect him, in pushing out and expelling the American Crusader occupation from its pure and patient country,” the statement said.

Al Qaeda also said it remains committed to supporting terrorist groups in Iraq, Somalia, the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, and the Caucasus.

“We also assure our mujahideen brothers, the companions on the path of patience, challenge and confrontation with the Crusader campaign in Iraq of the Caliphate and knowledge; in Somalia of immigration and Shariah; in the Peninsula of revelation, wisdom and faith; in the Maghreb of fighting, support and steadfastness; in Chechnya of patience and insistence, that we are continuing in the covenant and in the methodology with a strong structure, aligned ranks, united word, familiar hearts and pure banner, fighting one enemy, even if they take different shapes and assume different names, without weakness, hesitation or surrender,” al Qaeda stated.

Al Qaeda further stated that it remains committed to the destruction of Israel and supports jihadist groups operating from Palestinian territories.

“We confirm to them that we will never accept giving up anything from the Palestine of jihad and fighting, from any part, and we will not recognize any legitimacy to the alleged State of Israel, even if all the people on earth agree [on its legitimacy],” al Qaeda said. “We will never accept or permit to or abide by any agreement, decision or treaty that decides that or loots from the Muslims one grain of sand of Palestine, whether it is the United Nations, which is controlled by the leading criminals, or other organizations and institutions. We will continue, with help from Allah and His power, in jihad and struggle by the hand and the tongue.”

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


  • Charles says:

    No mention of the USA which was OBL’s primary target. We need to keep knocking off their leadership so that the list of targets continues to shrink.

  • Tyler says:

    Fredo takes over the family business. Today’s a good day.

  • bill says:

    “We confirm to the Western World that we will give in to AQ or it criminal brethren. That we will support the democratic state of Israel and all other peaceful governments in the Middle East. We the country that fought both World Wars we will not recognize any legitimacy to the fundamentalist Muslin crackpots even if all the crackpot murders in the Muslin world agree [on its legitimacy], will never accept or permit to or abide by any agreement, decision or treaty that decides that give to Terrorists or their government supporters one grain of sand of any kind. We will continue to search out, to kill, and to exterminate AQ and its friends with help of the rest of the civilized world, until the pestilence that is muslin fundamentalism is devoured by the flames of its own jihad.

  • Stu says:

    AZ and his followers will die soon. And the civilized world–not just the west–will be a better place when they are gone.
    Notice how AZ latches on to the Arab uprisings as these were somehow part of jihad. Arabs don’t buy this spin. I would hope they don’t wish to swap secular dictators with a self-appointed fanatic like AZ.
    Considering the “treasure trove” of leads scooped up by Navy Seals at bin Laden’s hideaway, it’s astounding that “As Shabab” and the AQ “Shura” could even convene 6 weeks after the great Sheik ate it. One would think that after the hornets buzzed out of their nests a few weeks ago, our intelligence resources would haver observed the hubbub. This pig of a man would be easy to spot from the scar on his forehead and the panic in his eyes. Let us pray his stench will soon be cleansed.

  • Bungo says:

    Prediction : He’ll be room temperature in 6 months. 12 months tops.

  • James says:

    So now it appears (at least to me) that aq has been taken over by an overweight and senile old man.
    Hopefully, next time around, our guys will just leave his rotting stench of a corpse there for Pakistan to dispose of.

  • Paul says:

    Is this guy sure he wants the job? What about Saif Adel? I hope they both have a joint meeting which is attended by Mr. Hellfire. AQ tries jump on the side of the Arab Spring …nice try. The sooner this guy joins the other guy taking a dirt nap the better.
    AQ now has 4th & 5th tier leaders and it shows. In another 5 years they will be nothing but a speedbump in history.

  • Neonmeat says:

    Although it seems to be have been known for a long time in certain circles this statement by Zawahiri confirms that AQ and the Taliban are inseparable and are working together in Afghanistan.
    Hopefully this will silence the doubters that believe aspects of the ‘Taliban’ can be appeased and brought to the negotiating table. He specifically states AQ are fighting under the leadership of Mullah Omar contrary to what many Western observers would like us to believe.

  • villiger says:

    AQ would be naked without Pakistan to hide in.
    Neither AQ nor Pakistan knows what it means to live and let-live.
    Which is why, first Pakistan needs to be tamed through dismantling this false State. Before the whole of AQ can be dismantled.

  • David Verbryke says:

    Mullah Omar, who has a 10 million dollar on his head, is far and away the superior soldier over the crusty and the grotesque Ayman al-Zawhiri. Zawhiri is overrated as the “operational brains” of al-Qa’ida, as that title belongs more to the intelligence chief Mohammed Atef, who was killed in 2001, and built the infrastucture of al-Qa’ida and the current intelligence chief, Saif al-Adel.

  • Alphonse Warakomski says:

    I hope the fates have allowed us to collect enough information to send in the drones and raptors to cause this madman’s life to cease. May it happen soon.

  • Neo says:

    Zawahiri isn

  • Mr T says:

    Was OBL different?

  • Neo says:

    Was OBL different?
    Bin Laden had status and was connected well beyond Al Qaeda. He was a money and logistics man along side his charismatic leadership role. I would say he was also a better tactician than Zawahiri.

  • Adam says:

    I’d have to imagine that after Bin Laden’s demise, this new guy has got to be at least a little nervous about us? I think Bin Landen was convinced he was never going to get caught

  • gitsum says:

    N E X T …….. Team 6’em……….

  • Mirage says:

    It would make my day, if our terroristic friend here destroys Al-Qaeda.


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