Jihadist Seif al-Adl, a former member of Egypt's Special Forces based in Iran, has been the leader of al-Qaeda since Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in the summer of 2022, the State Department said on Wednesday.
"Our assessment is the same as that of the UN - namely that the new de facto leader of Al-Qaeda Seif al-Adl is based in Iran" , indicated a spokesman for the American diplomacy, in reference to a United Nations report released on Tuesday.
This report indicated that the prevailing view among member states was that Seif al-Adl was "now the de facto leader of al-Qaeda, representing continuity for now".
But, according to this text, the group did not formally declare him "emir" for two reasons: firstly because it is a delicate subject vis-à-vis the Taliban authorities in Afghanistan, who did not want to acknowledge that Zawahiri was killed by Americans in a house in Kabul last year.
Then because Seif al-Adl resides in Iran, a predominantly Shiite country, while Al-Qaeda is a Sunni group. "Where it is based raises questions that weigh on al-Qaeda's ambitions to assert its leadership of a global movement in the face of challenges from IS," the rival Islamic State group, says the UN report.
Seif al-Adl, now in his 60s, was once a lieutenant colonel in the Egyptian Special Forces. He is a figure of the old guard of Al-Qaeda. He helped build the group's operational capabilities and trained some of the hijackers who took part in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, according to the Counter Extremism Project.
He has been in Iran since 2002 or 2003 and while he was initially under house arrest, he was later able to make trips to Pakistan, according to Ali Soufan, a former FBI investigator.
“Seif is one of the most experienced professional soldiers in the global Jdihadist movement, and his body bears the marks of combat,” he wrote in 2021 in the CTC Journal.