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SUCCESSOR Meet al Qaeda's Next Likely Leader AP Photo

Meet al Qaeda's Next Likely Leader

Osama bin Laden was a big name in terrorism and al Qaeda's well-known leader, but few know of his equally powerful right hand man, the terrorist network's Egyptian deputy Ayman Al-Zawahri. While it's too early to tell exactly how al Qaeda would handle a transition of power, terror specialists believe al-Zawahri would be his likely successor. Al-Zawahri became a Jihadist activist when he was just a teenager and later went to Afghanistan as a doctor to treat Islamists fighting off Soviet forces. Bin Laden and al-Zawahri met in the late 1980s, when al-Zawahri reportedly tended to bin Laden's battle wounds in the caves of Afghanistan. The jihadist doctor immediately befriended the jihadist Saudi millionaire, and their bond was the foundation for the al Qaeda terror network. When the U.S. pushed al Qaeda out of Afghanistan in 2001 following the September 11 attacks, al-Zawahri played a crucial role in keeping the terror network together. In a 2001 treatise, al-Zawahri pronounced a long-term strategy for the jihadi movement—to inflict "as many casualties as possible" on the Americans.

May 2, 2011 7:14 AM