New al-Qaeda chief is Saif al-Adel, militant in Iran, U.N. report says


Saif al-Adel, who is needed by the United States in reference to the 1998 bombings of its embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, has been recognized by many nations as the brand new “de facto and uncontested” chief of al-Qaeda, in accordance with a report by U.N. specialists. Many U.N. member states additionally consider that Adel is positioned in Iran, the report mentioned.

Adel is a former member of the Egyptian navy and later fought the Soviets after they invaded Afghanistan in 1979. He can also be a constitution member of al-Qaeda and was a loyalist of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist assaults, in accordance with a profile of Adel written by the counterterrorism knowledgeable Ali Soufan.

When U.S. forces killed bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Afghanistan final yr, Adel was seen by many specialists because the terrorist group’s possible subsequent chief. U.S. authorities had beforehand supplied a $10 million reward for info main on to his “apprehension or conviction.”

But al-Qaeda has not publicly declared Adel its new chief, presumably due to the political sensitivities of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, in accordance with the report, which was circulated to the U.N. Security Council on Monday.

The Taliban, which has been in search of a measure of worldwide legitimacy because it retook energy in 2021, most likely needs to keep away from the embarrassment of acknowledging that it harbored Adel’s predecessor, the report mentioned, citing assessments from member states. The group had beforehand signed an settlement with the United States pledging to not enable terrorist teams with worldwide goals to function out of territory it controls.

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Rita Katz, an extremism knowledgeable and director of the SITE Intelligence Group, had raised the potential of al-Qaeda naming a brand new chief beneath an alias and never unveiling a “face to match the name to,” when U.S. forces killed al-Zawahiri.

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But many U.N. member states suspected that the “key factor” behind al-Qaeda’s silence is Adel’s suspected longtime residence in Shiite-majority Iran, which is led by Shiite clerics. The Sunni terrorist group has lengthy considered Shiite Muslims as apostates, in accordance with a report by Brookings.

Adel’s alleged presence in Iran poses “difficult theological and operational questions” for al-Qaeda, the report’s authors say. (One unidentified U.N. member state denied the presence of any al-Qaeda members or dependents within the nation.)

The alleged terrorist chief is believed to have been born within the early Sixties. He has been based mostly in Iran since 2002 or 2003, when he went into hiding after the Sept. 11 assaults, Soufan wrote in an article for the CTC Sentinel, which is printed by the Combating Terrorism Center on the U.S. Military Academy.

Adel was held by Iranian authorities for some years earlier than a prisoner swap between Tehran and al-Qaeda that was reported in 2015, however his obvious continued presence there’s a signal of pragmatism, wrote Soufan, a former FBI official who investigated the 1998 embassy bombings. The assaults killed 224 individuals and wounded greater than 4,000.

“Despite the hateful necessity” of residing beneath Shiite rule, “his best chance of survival, and therefore of continued effectiveness in the jihad, lay in a return to Iran,” Soufan wrote.

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Not a lot is definite in regards to the militant chief, with solely three pictures of him identified to exist, in accordance with Soufan, who added that he stands out even amongst different al-Qaeda members for his “lack of remorse.”

U.N. member states assessed that there was “no significant” current change in al-Qaeda’s power, in accordance with the report. It mentioned the menace from the group and its associates is elevated in and round battle zones however stays “relatively low in other areas.”

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