Ayman al-Zawahiri has been the leader of Al-Qaeda since the killing of Osama bin Laden. Born into a prosperous medical family in Egypt, he completed medical studies and set up a clinic. In the 80’s he was already part of the Islamic Jihad group in Egypt and was arrested and tortured in prison. He went on to become the leader of Egypt’s Islamic Jihad, which he merged into al-Qaeda in 1998. He emerged as bin Laden’s personal advisor and physician. He is often credited with being the “real brains” of Al-Qaeda. Despite a huge US bounty on his head, he has managed to evade capture and with the demise of DA’ISH he may move to the fore again.
Source of Influence: Extremists
Status: Featured in current year