Updated: October 2011
Ayman al-Zawahiri, who merged resources with Osama bin Laden to create the world's deadliest and most complex international terrorist network, has been named bin Laden's successor.
According to a June 2011 statement released by Al Qaeda's "general leadership," Zawahiri "has assumed responsibility for command of the group." The statement vowed to continue "jihad against the apostate invaders…with their head being crusader America and its servant Israel, and whoever supports them." Since then, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has sworn allegiance to Zawahiri, as has a member of the Shura Council of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Ali Mahmud Ragi, a spokesman from the Al Qaeda-linked Somali terrorist organization Al Shabaab, also welcomed Zawahiri's appointment, as has the Islamic State of Iraq, a successor group to Al Qaeda in Iraq.
Since taking over leadership of Al Qaeda, Zawahiri's messages have mainly focused on the Arab Spring. He issued a series of audio recordings related to the Egyptian Revolution, criticizing the new military government for its foreign policy. He has also warned that the United States would try to coopt the uprisings throughout the Arab world, and seek to install other friendly regimes.
In a statement timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Zawahiri expressed his views on the "successive victories…over the Crusader arrogance, with grace and bounty from Allah."
Prior to Bin laden's death in May 2011, Zawahiri, who had long been Al Qaeda's number-two man and its ideological, tactical and organizational commander, had increasingly become the public voice of Al Qaeda, issuing dozens of statements on behalf of the terrorist movement.
These statements - released as videos, audio recordings and written statements – have focused on a range of issues and often include threats against Israel and Jews. For example, in a video released in August 2009, Zawahiri called for the annihilation of "the Americans and Jews and the hypocrites and apostates who help them." In a similar statement released in January 2009, Zawahiri called on Muslims to attack Israeli and Western targets around the world in response to Israel's military action against Hamas in Gaza. Zawahiri pledged to help the Palestinians during Israel's operation in Gaza against Hamas, and also warned that American "will certainly not even dream of security before we actually live in security in Palestine."
Since bin Laden's death, Zawahiri has been listed as the most wanted terrorist by the FBI, which is offering up to $25 million for information leading to his capture. He is believed to be hiding somewhere between Afghanistan and Pakistan.