U.S. Drone Reportedly Nearly Killed the Head of Al-Qaida in January

Five of Ayman al-Zawahiri's bodyguards who were in the next room were killed in the blast, but he survived, Newsweek reported

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Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.Credit: AP

Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was almost killed at the beginning of January, when a U.S. drone fired at a house he was staying at in the remote Shawal Valley on Pakistani-Afghan border, Newsweek reported Friday.

The prominent Al-Qaida spokesman and ideologue, who was often referred to as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man, took over the leadership of the terrorist organization following the assassination of Bin Laden by U.S. forces in May 2011.

The former eye surgeon has been on the U.S. government's most wanted list since 2001 and has a $25 million bounty on his head. Born in Cairo, Egypt to a middle-class family, he is thought to have been the chief operational commander behind the 9/11 attacks and is suspected of having a hand in a long list of militant activities against Western targets, including the attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa in the late 90s.

According to Newsweek's sources, al-Zawahiri survived the latest attack, while five of his bodyguards, who were in the next room were killed in the blast.

While CIA figures have called for Pakistan to be held accountable for terrorist groups operating from within its borders it is thought that al-Zawahiri has been living in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas since at least 2005.

However, Newsweek said that "authoritative sources" believe that al-Zawahiri is currently residing in the port city of Karachi, under the protection of the Pakistani security services.