Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri dies in Afghanistan

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has died of natural causes in Afghanistan, according Afghanistan and Pakistan media on Friday.

Arab News quoted at least four security sources in Pakistan and Afghanistan as confirming al-Zawahiri’s death, adding that two of them said he was “dead”, but they spoke informally because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

“Al-Zawahiri, 69, last appeared in a video message on the anniversary of the September 11th attacks in the United States this year,” the report said.

According to a UN report on the activities of terrorist groups from around the world released last July, al-Qaeda was secretly active in 12 Afghan provinces and its leader al-Zawahiri remained based in Afghanistan.

The United Nations estimated the total number of Al-Qaeda militants in Afghanistan at between 400 and 600.

“If this development is confirmed, it is likely to create a deep void in al-Qaeda’s leadership, with at least two senior commanders who were likely to be in line to replace him,” the paper said.

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