Generally, youths from poor family backgrounds are brainwashed by terrorist organizations and join terrorist movements. But that is not Ayman-al-Zawahiri’s story. He was born in 1951 in an influential family from Cairo, Egypt. Zawahiri’s grandfather was the imam of Al-Azrin, one of the most important mosques in Cairo.
His father is a doctor. At the age of 15, Ayman al-Zawahiri embraced Islamic fundamentalism. He was inspired by the views of Syed Qutb, an Islamist Egyptian writer who was hanged in 1966 on charges of attempting to overthrow the Egyptian government.
In 1981, Ayman Al-Zawahiri was introduced to the outside world when he was arrested for his involvement in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar-Al-Sadat. In this case, he was sentenced to 3 years in prison after he was arrested for illegally selling weapons.
Those who studied with him at Cairo Medical University in the 1970s describe Zawahiri as a lively young man who went to the cinema, listened to music and joked with friends while studying. But those who have studied with him have commented that he was a completely different young man when he came out of prison.
After Zawahiri, a surgeon, was released from prison, he went to Pakistan to treat the wounded Islamic Mujahideen guerrillas fighting the Soviet forces in Afghanistan. It was on this occasion that he became acquainted with bin Laden.
Zawahiri, who assumed leadership of Islamic Jihad in Egypt in 1993, was a leading figure in the campaign to establish a pure Islamic state. In this, more than 1,200 Egyptians were killed. Ayman al-Zawahiri was a wanted man following the 1995 assassination attempt on former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
In 1995, Zawahiri ordered an attack on the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad. 16 people were killed when two explosive-laden cars attacked the embassy. In 1999, an Egyptian military court sentenced Zawahiri to death. Following this, Ayman-al-Zawahiri worked with Bin Laden to create Al Qaeda.
Al Zawahiri played a key role in the September 11, 2001 attack on the American Twin Towers. During that period, he served as Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man. Al-Zawahiri became the leader of Al-Qaeda after the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011.
For years, Zawahiri was believed to be hiding in the restricted border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. This year, U.S. officials discovered that Zawahiri’s wife, daughter and children had moved to a safe house in Kabul. Later, Zawahiri also lived in the same place.
Meanwhile, last Sunday morning, Ayman-al-Zawahiri was killed in a drone attack while he was out on the balcony of his house.