Saif al-Adl, a former Egyptian army officer who later joined al-Qaida, has been revealed to now serve as the militant group’s ‘consensus’ leader.
The British news agency Reuters, referring to the United Nations report, said that al-Qaeda has not yet named Ayman al-Zawahiri’s successor. He was hit by a missile in Kabul last year by the US, which has been overseeing the organization since the 2011 killing of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.
Although a US intelligence official said in January that Ayman al-Zawahiri’s successor was not yet clear, a UN report assessed potential threats from the group.
“In talks between November and December, most member states took the position that Saif al-Adl was already acting as the ‘de facto and unopposed’ leader.”
The United States had set a price of one million dollars on his head.
Experts with knowledge of Al-Qaeda’s network say that after the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the organization was under pressure to choose a leader who could run the organization’s network and deadly operations.
Unlike his predecessor, Saif al-Adl’s case appears to be somewhat different as Ayman al-Zawahiri continued to release videos specifically threatening America.
Experts say Saif al-Adl continued to plan attacks in the background and helped make al-Qaeda the world’s most dangerous group.
Saif al-Adeel was indicted by the US judiciary for his role in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. In these situations, 224 civilians were killed and more than five thousand were injured.
There are a few pictures of Saif al-Adl on the FBI’s ‘Most Wanted’ list, including a black and white photo.
It has been reported by American authorities that apart from the operations in Africa, Saif al-Adl was also involved in the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, who was killed in Pakistan in 2002.
The US State Department says Saif al-Adl is in Iran and the Rewards for Justice Program has announced a $10 million reward for information about him.
On his behalf, Saif al-Adl has been described as a member of Al-Qaeda’s leadership council and head of the military committee.
Information on the website of the Rewards for Justice Program states that after the bombings in Africa, former Egyptian Army Lt. Col. Saif al-Adl moved to southeastern Iran, where he remained under the protection of the country’s Revolutionary Guards.
In 2003, Iran placed him and other al-Qaeda officials under house arrest and later released him and four others in exchange for an Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Yemen.
Iran’s Mission to the United Nations has denied Saif al-Adl’s presence in Iran through its official Twitter handle on Wednesday.
It is not true that the new leaders of al-Qaeda are in Iran. This misinformation can potentially hinder the fight against terrorism.
Ali Sufan, a former FBI special agent who tracked down al-Qaeda operatives, wrote of Saif al-Adl that his name means ‘sword of justice’. He is a smart person with a spot face and his real name is Muhammad Salahuddin Zidan.
Experts say that Saif al-Adl was arrested on suspicion even after the assassination of President Anwar al-Sadat in 1981. Anwar Sadat was assassinated during an army parade and it was being televised at that time.
Saif al-Adl is one of al-Qaeda’s oldest leaders and has been close to central command for decades.
Experts say he will be tasked with strategic guidance for franchises in the Middle East, Africa and Asia that are operating on their own.
In the 90s, Saif-ul-Adl established training camps for the organization in Sudan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
He played an important role in the attack on American helicopters in Mogadishu. 18 US soldiers were killed in this incident in 1993.
After that, the United States and United Nations peacekeeping forces started to withdraw from Somalia.
According to the FBI, Saif al-Adl is on the most wanted terrorist list and is accused of plotting to kill American citizens and attack buildings.
“He (Sif al-Adl) is a courageous, professional and brutal person,” says Yoram Sweitzer, a security researcher at Tel Aviv University.