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.