Who is he?:
Leader of the terrorist group al-Qaeda. Wanted for his alleged role in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Most wanted terrorist on the FBI's list. Was a longtime second-in-command to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and took over control of the organization after bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces on May 2, 2011, in Pakistan. Known for releasing the bulk of propaganda messages while bin Laden was in hiding for years.
June 19, 1951, in Cairo, Egypt. Came from a well-to-do family; his father, Mohammed, was a surgeon and pharmacology professor. He was described as quiet and studious, as well as faithful to Islam and attending mosque. As a teenager he joined the Muslim Brotherhood and was arrested and charged in a plot to overthrow President Gamal Abdel Nasser. His brother, Muhammad, is reportedly an Islamic Jihad commander. His twin sister, Omnaya Hiba, is a professor of oncology. His younger brother, Hussein, is an architect and not involved in Islamist activities.
Al-Zawahiri married Azza Ahmed Nowari, whom he met as a student at Cairo University, in 1978. The couple had five daughters, one with Down syndrome, and a son. His wife and three of his children were killed by American raids on Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He is twice remarried. A surgeon by trade and an Islamic theologian, Zawahiri served as both physician and advisor to bin Laden, whom he met in the 1980s while helping treat mujahedin fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. Speaks Arabic, French and fluent English. A firm believer in Wahhabi Islam, the strict orientation within the Salafi movement seen in Saudi Arabia.
A member of the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Zawahiri became involved in Islamist politics as a teenager. He and other high school students in the underground cell reportedly plotted to overthrow the Egyptian government and establish an Islamist state in its place. He was arrested and charged with plotting to overthrow President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Years later, he was one of hundreds of Islamist militants ordered arrested after the assassination of President Anwar Sadat; he was convicted on weapons charges and served three years behind bars.
Al-Zawahiri was initially a surgeon in the Egyptian army, skills that would serve him well for his transition into the jihadist movement. After he got out of prison on the weapons charges, he left Egypt for Peshawar, Pakistan, where he met bin Laden. After the Soviets were defeated in Afghanistan, Zawahiri joined bin Laden and his new terror group al-Qaeda in Sudan, where he began plotting attacks on Egyptian interests, including a 1995 bombing of the Egyptian embassy in Pakistan. He railed against what he saw as a moderate course taken by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In 1998, the pair formed the World Islamic Front for the Jihad Against the Jews and the Crusaders, which merged Egyptian Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda. That year, after a fatwa from al-Zawahiri and bin Laden urging the killing of Americans, suicide bombers attacked the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, for which al-Zawahiri was indicted. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Interpol issued a warrant for al-Zawahiri. While bin Laden mostly laid low after 9/11, al-Zawahiri was the more public face and voice of al-Qaeda, issuing numerous messages, warnings and directives for jihadists.
Al-Zawahiri's ascension to the head of al-Qaeda wasn't without controversy. There has been buzz that he's not "universally accepted" among al-Qaeda's rank-and-file by not carrying the same cult of personality, and the fact that he wasn't promoted to the No. 1 spot until six weeks after bin Laden's death led to speculation that there was hestitation within the terrorist group. At the beginning of his tenure, al-Zawahiri has stepped up proganda and retooled the tone and pace of the group's messaging. Analysts suggest that these early signs show that al-Zawahiri is putting muscle behind the effort for al-Qaeda not to just survive, but to be more dangerous than ever. There is a reward of up to $25 million being offered by the United States for information leading directly to the capture of conviction of al-Zawahiri.
"True reform is based on three principles. The first principle is the rule of Shari'a, because Shari'a, which was given by God, protects the believers' interests, freedom, honor, and pride, and protects what is sacred to them. The Islamic nation will not accept any other law, after it has suffered from the anti-Islamic trends forcefully imposed on it."