April 14, 2000  


U.S. intelligence has identified the designated successor of ailing terrorist 
leader Osama bin Ladin, according to U.S. government sources. United Press 
International has learned that the CIA believes Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader 
of the Egyptian terror group al-Jihad, will assume control of bin Ladin's 
terrorist finances, operations, plans and resources. Bin Ladin is said to be 
suffering from a bone marrow disease, in addition to kidney failure. Ayman 
Al-Zawahiri is already closely associated with bin Ladin, serving as his 
sometime - spokesman and identified by the U.S. State Department as a key 
leader in bin Ladin's new World Islamic Front, an alliance of various 
terrorist groups formed to carry out a holy war against America and its 
allies. Al-Zawahiri is the operational and military leader of al-Jihad, also 
known as Islamic Jihad, an extremist group active since the late 1970s whose 
goal is to overthrow the Egyptian government. He is believed to be in 
Afghanistan, where bin Ladin has resided for at least a year. Al-Zawahiri was 
the second signer on a "fatwa," or declaration of holy war issued by bin 
Ladin in February 1998, that called for the killing of all Americans and 
their allies, civilian or military. "We -- with God's help -- call on every 
Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God's 
order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever 
they find it. We also call on Muslim ulema, leaders, youths, and soldiers to 
launch the raid on Satan's U.S. troops and the devil's supporters allying 
with them, and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a 
lesson," states the "fatwa." In its original incarnation al-Jihad was 
believed to be responsible for the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President 
Anwar Sadat. Al-Jihad has split into two factions, one of them controlled by 
al-Zawahiri. The group has not conducted an attack inside Egypt since 1993, 
according to the State Department.

Al-Zawahiri, 49, was born in Giza, Egypt, according to a White House 
declaration in 1995 that identified him as a terrorist.  He was reported to 
have participated in a planning meeting of Hezzbollah, a pro-Iranian group in 
Lebanon, to set up attacks on U.S. interests on all continents. He is also 
reported to be behind  "Islamic terrorist operations" in Bosnia with U.S. and 
international peacekeepers his primary target. Al-Hayat, a London-based 
Arabic newspaper reported last year that al-Zawahiri had vowed to take 
revenge on the United States for its support of Israel, its ongoing war with 
Iraq and its military presence in the Middle East.  According to intelligence 
sources, Bin Ladin's failing health makes it impossible for him to continue 
overseeing his organization, the Islamic Salvation Foundation or al-Qaida. 
Dubbed by President Clinton "the pre-eminent organizer and financier of 
international terrorism in the world today," and on the FBI's "Ten Most 
Wanted List," bin Ladin has been variously linked to the World Trade Center 
bombing in New York, bomb attacks against U.S troops in Saudi Arabia, and the 
bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on Aug. 7, 1998 that 
killed 257 people and injured 5,500 more.  At the time of the embassy 
bombings, a reporter in Pakistan, Rahimullah Yusufzai, said he received a 
call from  Ayman al-Zawahiri, who identified himself as a spokesman for bin 
Laden.  "I have nothing to do with the bombing of American embassies in 
Africa, but I urge the Muslims all over the world to continue their jihad 
against the Americans and Jews," al-Zawahiri, told the reporter on bin 
Ladin's behalf.

Bin Ladin hasn't been seen in more than a year, and the last event he was 
associated with publicly was the embassy bombings. Bin Ladin controls about 
$300 million of his Saudi Arabian family's estimated $5 billion fortune, and 
he uses it almost exclusively to fund his international operations. He is 
said to be behind terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and 
building roads, tunnels, and hospitals in Afghanistan and Sudan.

TWA800 Home