Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, has been appointed the new chief of al-Qaeda, Arabic-language websites reported on Thursday.
Al-Zawahiri, 59, a qualified surgeon, was former al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden’s personal advisor and physician.
Bin Laden was killed by U.S. Special Forces during a raid on his hideout in north-western Pakistan in early May.
Al-Zawahiri is on the CIA wanted list for allegedly planning terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 which killed over 200 people. He has a $25 million bounty on his head for information leading to his capture.
Al-Zawahiri has been widely viewed as bin Laden’s most likely successor. Bin Laden’s former security chief Saif al-Adel, 51, was also a possible contender since he was appointed acting leader after bin Laden’s death.
Some Arabic-language media reports suggested that Al-Zawahiri faced opposition from some prominent al-Qaeda members who wanted the post to go to a younger candidate.