Situation, Facts and Events

What is known about the alleged new al-Qaeda leader al-Adel

Seif al-Adel, a former Egyptian special forces officer and a high-ranking al-Qaeda member, is now the “undisputed” leader of the militants, according to a new UN report on this terrorist organization, quoted by Reuters.


Saif al-Adel is wanted by the United States in connection with the 1998 bombings of their embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. As a result of those attacks, 224 people were killed and more than 4,000 were injured.


He fought against the Soviet authorities in Afghanistan and is also one of the founders of al-Qaeda, as he was a supporter of Osama bin Laden. US authorities have previously offered a $10 million reward for information leading directly to his arrest or location.


When US troops eliminated bin Laden's successor Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan last year, many experts viewed Adel as the likely next terrorist leader, Washington Post indicated.


When US forces eliminated Zawahiri, extremism expert Rita Katz suggested that al-Qaeda would present the new leader under a pseudonym and not reveal “a face to match his name”.


Adel was held in Iranian custody for several years before a prisoner exchange between Tehran and al-Qaeda which was reported in 2015, said former FBI official who investigated the 1998 US embassy bombings, Special Agent Soufan.


It is assumed that the new terrorist leader was born in the early 1960s. He has been in Iran since 2002 or 2003, where he went into hiding after the 9/11 attacks, Soufan wrote in an article for the CTC Sentinel published by the US Military Academy Counterterrorism Center. Adel, says the former special agent, was held in the custody of Iranian authorities for several years before the exchange of prisoners between Tehran and al-Qaeda, which was reported in 2015.


Soufan says that little is known about the militant leader: there are only three known images of him, and they say that he stands out even among other al-Qaeda members for his “lack of remorse” and incredible cruelty.