Arab media reported on Friday that Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the head of Al-Qaeda and an Egyptian national, died in Afghanistan due to natural causes.
The news reports came a few days after social media carried speculation that the Al-Qaeda chief had passed away. Zawahiri was last seen in a video message that was released by the militant group on the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the US.
Arab News stated in its report that it spoke to at least four security sources in Pakistan and Afghanistan — who spoke on condition of anonymity — out of which two confirmed Zawahiri’s death.
An Al-Qaeda translator said Zawahiri had died last week in Ghazni. “He died of asthma because he had no formal treatment.”
A Pakistani official has been cited by Arab News as saying that he believed Zawahiri had died, most probably by natural causes. Another source close to the Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan said Zawahiri had died this month and that a few followers had offered his funeral prayers.
He did not specify whether the funeral was absent or buried in the grave. The source said: “We know that he has breathing difficulties and has passed away somewhere in Afghanistan.”
“We have received the same information that Zawahiri died about a month ago,” a Pakistani source, privy to anti-terror operations in Afghanistan, reportedly told Arab News.
However, Arab News said it spoke to another Pakistani official who said that Zawahiri was in Afghanistan and had been “extremely ill” but said he was not aware whether the Al-Qaeda leader was dead or not.
As far as I know, he is very sick and has kidney failure. “The intelligence officer said. “He was unable to perform dialysis, but I still need to confirm whether he is dead. “
The United States said it has received news of Zawahiri’s death, but has not yet verified it.
These reports appear because people are raising more and more doubts about Al Qaeda’s future intentions, and its network is completely different from the franchise that spreads fear around the world under the charming Bin Laden. different.
In 2011, bin Laden was killed in a U.S. operation in Pakistan, leaving the organization in the hands of Egyptian jihadist veteran Al-Zawahiri and leading al-Qaeda thinkers, but there was no bin Laden. Bin Laden’s ability to rally militants around the world.
Hassan Hassan, director of the US-based Center for Global Policy (CGP), said at the weekend that al-Zawahiri had died a month ago of natural causes.
And Rita Katz, director of the jihadist media monitor SITE, said unconfirmed reports were circulating that al-Zawahiri had died.
“It is very typical of AQ to not publish news about the death of its leaders in a timely manner,” she said.
Nonetheless, this is not the first time there have been reports of al-Zawahiri’s death, only for him to re-emerge on several occasions.
“Intelligence agencies believe he is very sick,” said Barak Mendelsohn, associate professor at Haverford College and author of several books on Al-Qaeda.
“Ultimately, if it did not happen now, it will happen soon,” he told AFP.