Tue. Sep 26th, 2023

According to a US State Department spokesperson, the new leader of al-Qaeda, Seif al-Adel, is believed to be based in Iran. The United Nations also noted that al-Adel is the “uncontested” leader of the terrorist network. Despite not having formally announced a successor to Ayman al-Zawahiri, it is reported that member states believe al-Adel is already serving as the new emir. Al-Adel is a former Egyptian special forces officer who was once the chief bodyguard to al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. In 1998, he was indicted and charged for his role in bomb attacks on US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. He has a $10 million bounty on his head. After the Africa bombings, al-Adel relocated to Iran and lived under the protection of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. He was placed under house arrest in 2003 and released in exchange for an Iranian diplomat who was kidnapped in Yemen.

The UN report highlights that al-Adel’s location in Shia-majority Iran raises questions about al-Qaeda’s ambitions to assert its leadership of a global movement against challenges from the rival ISIS organisation. Al-Qaeda is a Sunni Islamist group, and the issue of al-Adel residing in a Shia-majority country has been a sensitive one for the group.

The US State Department’s spokesperson stated that Iran’s offering safe haven to al-Qaeda is another example of the country’s wide-ranging support for terrorism and destabilizing activities in the Middle East and beyond. This claim has been denied by Iran’s mission to the UN, which stated that the information was incorrect and that it could potentially hinder efforts to combat terrorism.

This is not the first time that a high-profile al-Qaeda leader has been reported to be located in Iran. In 2020, al-Qaeda’s then-number two, Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was assassinated in Tehran by two Israeli agents on the anniversary of the two embassy bombings in Africa. Outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed in January 2021 that Iran was the “new home base” of al-Qaeda. However, Tehran dismissed the remarks as “warmongering lies.”

Coverage and Additional Reporting by Lenny “Rainbow” Ace

The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author.
They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the AMeAR|News, R2iNTEL or its members.

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