Dubai, June 28 (AFP): Ayman al-Zawahiri, second in command to Osama bin Laden at the head of al Qaida, is under arrest in Iran, Arab satellite TV station al-Arabiya has alleged.
That has not been confirmed, nor reports that the terrorist network’s spokesman, Suleyman Abu Ghaith, and one of bin Laden’s sons were also in the hands of the authorities.
A former leader of the Egyptian fundamentalist movement al-Jihad, Zawahiri, 52, is bin Laden’s personal physician, and there were conflicting reports about his fate after the US military intervention in Afghanistan.
Suggestions that he might have been killed were apparently dispelled in January this year when he launched an appeal for the death of all Americans in an e-mail to an Egyptian lawyer.
Sentenced to death in his absence by an Egyptian court in 1999, Zawahari became a symbol of the radical Islamic movement and has written a number of books on Islamic fundamentalism. He left Egypt in the mid 1980s after serving a three-year prison sentence for his involvement in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat, and lived variously in Saudi Arabia, Sudan and the US.