Who would be al-Qaeda’s leader after al-Zawahiri and Hamza bin Laden?
Who would be the successor of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, especially after media reports said Hamza bin Laden was killed in an operation carried out the US intelligence service? Al-Zawahiri was reported seriously wounded and couldn’t run al-Qaeda organization.
Experts on terrorist groups have shortlisted four jihadists to replace al-Zawahiri. Counterterrorism experts believe jihadi veterans Abu Muhammad al-Masri, Saif al-Adel, Hossam Abdel Raouf and Abu Hurayrah al-Sanaani are likely next in line to take over from Zawahiri. Both are wanted in connection with al Qaeda's bombings of two US embassies in east Africa in 1998. Al-Masri is Hamza bin Laden's father-in-law.
Saif al-Adel is an Egyptian former military lieutenant colonel and one of al-Qaeda's top commanders. He was sacked from the Egyptian military in 1987. He is also a member of al-Qaeda’s so-called shura council.
He has trained a number of terrorist groups since 1990 in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sudan. In 1992-1993, al-Adel trained takfiri groups in Somalia.
In November 1998, he took part in the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. He moved to southeastern Iran. In April 2003, the Iranian authorities put him under house arrest. He was released in September 2015.
Abu Muhammad al-Masri
Abu Muhammad al-Masri is al-Qaeda’s second-in-command and a member of its shura council. He is an explosives expert.
His daughter was married to Hamza bin Laden. However, al-Masri opposed the 9/11 terrorist operation in 2003.
Abu Hurayrah al-Sanaani
Qasim al-Raymi, aka Abu Hurayrah al-Sanaani, was born in 1974 in Yemen. He has played a key role in al-Qaeda’s operations in the Arabian Peninsula.
He co-launched al-Qaeda group in Yemen in 2007. He was imprisoned in 2005 for taking part in a plot to assassinate the US ambassador to Yemen. He escaped in 2006. In 2010, the US listed him as most wanted.
In July 2015, he orchestrated an attack on Spanish tourists killing nine people.
Hossam Abdel Raouf
Hossam Abdel Raouf was born in 1958 and graduated from the faculty of agriculture in 1979. He traveled to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets in 1986.
Abdel Raouf and his wife traveled to Pakistan in 1989. They stayed there until 1995. He appeared in a number of al-Qaeda’s promos and wrote many articles for the terrorist organization.
Meanwhile, Nabil Naeem, an expert on takfiri groups, said that al-Qaeda organization would pick Abu Anas, the son of Abdallah Azzam,a leading reference of takfiri groups in Syria.
“Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, under the leadership of Abu-Muhammad al-Julani, pledged allegiance to Abu Anas, who was receiving funds from Qatar before he fled to Qatar, then to Turkey,” Naeem told THE REFERENCE.
“There have been attempts to transfer Abu Anas to Libya to carry out terrorist operations in Tripoli and Egypt. However, the Egyptian security authorities foiled these attempts.
Naeem forecast al-Qaeda organization would be disbanded if the status quo continues. “Al-Qaeda will eventually fall,” he added.