10 Other Major al-Qaeda Players You Need to Know

Now that Osama bin Laden, perhaps the world’s most wanted man since Adolph Hitler, has finally paid the price almost 10 years after orchestrating the unforgettable attacks on September 11th, the focus of the FBI’s and CIA’s counterterrorism efforts now centers on those next in line. Although al-Qaeda has been crippled since the War on Terrorism began, it still poses a legitimate threat to the West. The global militant Islamist group currently consists of 300 members with affiliates in Iraq, Yemen, and North and East Africa. The following men, though not nearly as high profile as bin Laden, will be important to capture “dead or alive,” especially in the near future as the organization attempts to regroup in the wake of the death of its founder.

  1. Ayman Al-Zawahiri

    Al-Zawahiri’s most notable offenses were his role in the 1998 bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. A member of al-Qaeda since its inception, he merged Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a group he founded, during the late ’90s and become a lieutenant to bin Laden. He’s been the al-Qaeda’s operational and strategic commander since 2009, and with bin Laden’s death, al-Zawahiri is now the organization’s most notable member. He’s wanted in both Egypt and the U.S., the latter of which is offering “a reward of up to $25 million for information leading directly to the apprehension or conviction,” according to the FBI.

  2. Adam Yahiye Gadahn

    An American-turned-terrorist, Gadahn, also known as “Azzam the American,” is recognized as a senior operative, cultural interpreter and media advisor of al-Qaeda. Gadahn converted to Islam at the age of 17 and soon allied with its most extreme elements, supporting jihad causes after moving to Pakistan in the late ’90s. He was involved in the production of Bin Laden’s videos dating back to 2001 and has appeared in several of his own, once threatening to attack Los Angeles. He’s been publically endorsed by al-Zawahiri, and remains a key component of the organization. For his actions against his homeland, he holds the distinction of being the first American charged with treason in more than a half-century. The price on Gadahn’s head: $1 million.

  3. Saif al-Adel

    Not only was al-Adel involved in the 1998 embassy bombings for which he’s wanted in the U.S., but he’s since passed on his military skills to the latest generation of Islamic terrorists at the Ras Kamboni al-Qaeda training facility, which he established. A native Egyptian, he was suspected of being involved in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Al Sadat in 1981, and is still said to be affiliated with Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The price on Al-Adel’s head: $5 million.

  4. Adnan Gulshair el Shukrijumah

    Despite growing up in the U.S., Shukrijumah, like Gadahn, has little compassion for his former countrymen. He was first cited as a threat in 2003 after he plotted with Jose Padilla, who was arrested in 2002 for plotting a dirty bomb attack, to seal natural gas into apartment complexes and detonate explosions. In 2010, he was indicted for his role in the plot to attack targets in the U.K. and U.S., including New York City’s subway system. The price on Shukrijumah’s head: $5 million.

  5. Fazul Abdullah Mohammed

    The younger generation of al-Qaeda members are often the most feared given their ability to connect with their peers and incite more decades of violence around the world. Mohammed, the suspected to be the leader of the organization’s operations in East Africa, has been a U.S. target since the 1998 embassy bombings. He has pledged to take the fight beyond Somalia, naming Djibouti, Kenya, and Ethiopia as the next targets. The price on Mohammed’s head: $5 million.

  6. Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah

    Abdullah is yet another free al-Qaeda member who played a role in the 1998 embassy bombings. Native to Egypt, he fled the country and assisted with the training of the men who fought the U.S. in the Battle of Mogadishu and Operation Restoring Hope in 1993. Just three years later, he operated al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. The price on Abdullah’s head: $5 million.

  7. Abu Yahya al-Libi

    At one time, al-Libi was thought to be bin Laden’s heir apparent. As the organization’s leading theologian, he won the confidence of the old guard with his immense knowledge of Islamic history and law. He was captured by Pakistani officials in 2002 and turned over to Americans, who put him in Bagram interim detention facility, from which he escaped in 2005. He has since appeared in countless propaganda videos, including one in which he encouraged the overthrowing of Moammar Gadhafi and the establishment of Islamic rule in Libya, his home country.

  8. Matiur Rehman

    Rehman is believed to be al-Qaeda’s planning director, a position that requires frequent correspondence with al-Zawahiri. Pakistani officials linked him to the 2006 plot to detonate liquid explosives on board at least 10 planes en route from the U.K. to U.S. and Canada. He’s also suspected of being involved in the 2006 Karachi consulate attacks and helping train al-Qaeda militants in the late ’90s.

  9. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith

    One of al-Qaeda’s most infamous spokesmen, Ghaith grabbed international attention when he appeared in one of the organization’s videos less than a month following the September 11th attacks, defending its actions and threatening further violence. The Kuwaiti-Islamist is also known for his charity, Al Wafa al Igatha al Islamia, which is said to have directly funded al-Qaeda. Ghaith first rose to prominence during the Gulf War, when he denounced Saddam Hussein’s occupation of his home country. His subsequent insistence on the institution of Sharia law resulted in the banning of his sermons.

  10. Mahfouz Ould al-Walid

    As a top bin Laden aide during the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, al-Walid agreed with his leader’s initial comments, publically denying al-Qaeda’s responsibility for the ordeal. Prior to 9/11, he opposed a large-scale attack against the U.S., going so far as to write a formal letter to bin Laden warning against the operation. It’s believed that because al-Qaeda went through with it and thus provoked the U.S. invasion in Afghanistan, he has since distanced himself from the organization, instead identifying with the ideology of the Taliban. Al-Walid’s death has mistakenly been reported on multiple occasions.

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