Involved in the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anouar al-Sadat, he was imprisoned for three years and then moved to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in the mid-1980s, where he treated jihadists fighting the Soviets and met bin Laden .
Long at the head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (JIE), he did not join Al-Qaeda until the end of the 1990s.
The United States put him on their “black list” for having supported the attacks against the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998. He was also sentenced to death in absentia in Egypt for numerous attacks, including that of Luxor in 1997 (62 dead, including 58 foreign tourists). /p>
In 2002 and then in 2007, he was announced dead, but reappeared. He became bin Laden's right-hand man and was also his doctor. He “is not interested in fighting in the mountains. He thinks more on the international level”, said of him Hamid Mir, biographer of bin Laden, quoted by the think tank Counter-Extremism Project (CEP).
With him, in fact, “Al-Qaeda has become increasingly decentralized, with authority resting mainly in the hands of the heads of its subsidiaries,” adds the CEP, which nevertheless attributes to it a leading role in the reorganization of many jihadist groups.
Since 2011, he has lived holed up between Pakistan and Afghanistan, limiting his appearances to videos of monotonous preaching. Whether he is responsible for its decline or whether he succeeded in cushioning it, he leaves at the very least an organization at the antipodes of the jihadist international at war against the United States, of which bin Laden dreamed.
What's next? Saif al-Adel, ex-lieutenant-colonel of the Egyptian Special Forces and figure of the old guard of Al-Qaeda, is often cited to take over the reins. Unless a younger generation were to emerge.
In any case, the nebula will still have to impose itself vis-à-vis its great rival, the Islamic State group, with which it clashes, ideologically and militarily, on multiple grounds of predation.
According to the latest UN assessment, the international context is nevertheless “favorable to Al-Qaeda, which intends once again to be recognized as the spearhead of the global jihad (…) and could eventually pose a greater threat”.