Seif al-Adel, a former Egyptian special forces officer and a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda with a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head, is now the “uncontested” leader of the terrorist group, according to a new U.N. report. Despite a U.S. intelligence official saying in January that al-Qaeda’s succession remains unclear, the United Nations report states that many Member States believe Adel is already operating as the de facto and uncontested leader of the group. The pressure to appoint a strategic leader to carefully plan deadly operations and run a terrorist network has been mounting since the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden.
Adel was indicted and charged in November 1998 by a U.S. federal grand jury for his role in the bomb attacks on the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. He was also involved in the killing of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002. The U.S. State Department says Adel is based in Iran, and the department’s Rewards for Justice program is offering up to $10 million for information on him. Iran has denied Adel is in the country.
Ali Soufan, a former FBI special agent who tracked al-Qaeda operatives, wrote in a profile that Adel is a shrewd figure with a poker face and a caustic tongue. He began his long bloody career in 1981, when he was suspected of involvement in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat. Adel now takes over an al-Qaeda that has become highly decentralized since the group carried out its most spectacular operation, the Sept. 11, 2001, airplane attacks against the United States.