WASHINGTON — Al-Qaeda has chosen a former Egyptian Special Forces officer as interim leader of the violent extremist group in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death earlier this month, CNN reported Tuesday.
Saif al-Adel, a top Al-Qaeda strategist and senior military leader, has been tapped as “caretaker” chief of the group, CNN reported, citing former Libyan militant Noman Benotman, who has renounced Al-Qaeda’s ideology.
Pakistan’s The News newspaper corroborated the claim, citing unnamed sources in an article datelined Rawalpindi, a city home to the military headquarters of the Pakistani Armed Forces near the capital Islamabad.
The decision to chose Adel, also known as Muhamad Ibrahim Makkawi, came as militants grew increasingly restive over the lack of a formal successor to bin Laden, who was killed in a dramatic US commando raid deep in Pakistan on May 2, Benotman told CNN.
Bin Laden’s long-time deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, another Egyptian, is considered to be his presumed successor. Benotman said the appointment of Adel on a temporary basis may be a way for the group to gauge reaction to having someone outside the Muslim holy region of the Arabian Peninsula at the helm.