Who is Ayman al-Zawahri? Master strategist for al-Qaida was Osama bin Laden's mentor, then successor

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WASHINGTON – Ayman al-Zawahri, the top al-Qaida leader killed by a U.S. strike in Afghanistan over the weekend, started out as Osama bin Laden’s mentor and took over for him after bin Laden’s 2011 death.

While bin Laden was the public face, founder and a chairman of the board-like figure of al-Qaida, al-Zawahri operated more as a CEO of the organization. That included playing a management role in some of its most audacious plots, including the coordinated attacks on New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.

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