Al-Qaeda was once one of the world's most dreaded terrorist organization but after his leader, Osama Bin Laden was eliminated and more recently the reports of the 'natural death' of its aging leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has left the organization fighting for its very survival. In addition, the brazen daylight killings of Zawahiri's likely successor, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, and his daughter, Miriam, in the upscale suburb of Pasdaran, Tehran, could not have been worse for the Islamist terrorist organization.

The recent development has left only one contender left for the post of Al-Qaeda's chief or its 'Emir', Saif al-`Adel. Adel is believed to be a former colonel in the special force Egyptian military.

'Confidant of former Al-Qaeda chief, Osama Bin Laden'

It is largely believed that Saif al-Adel is actually his 'Nom de Guerre'. His real name is said to be Mohammed Salah al-Din Zaidan. Saif al-Adel is a senior military leader of Al Qaeda and had a long-standing friendship with Osama bin Laden. The role of Saif al-Adel in the organization was as a mentor, a military leader, and a key member of the security detail of Osama bin Laden. Adel is a member of the majlis al shura of al-Qaeda and a member of its military council.

Saif al-Adel
Saif al-Adel, Image released by FBICredit: FBI Website

Saif is one of the most experienced professional soldiers in the worldwide jihadi movement, and his body bears multiple scars of battle. He isn't just another jihadi thug but a "highly educated man speaking good English."

Adel has played a key role in providing military and intelligence training to al-Qaeda and Egyptian Islamist Jihad members in many countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Sudan. Further, the US has also found out his role in training the Somali anti-UN tribes. It is likely that the Somalis from the First Battle of Mogadishu included his trainees.

Saif al-Adel
Saif al-Adel and Osama Bin Laden

Why is he 'wanted' by the United States?

For his role in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya, Adel is under prosecution by the United States. Adel was suspected of being affiliated with the Islamist Jihadists of Egypt and intending in 1987 to topple the government of Egypt. He fled Egypt in 1988 after the charges were dropped and later join the mujahideen in fighting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. After the withdrawal of Soviet forces, Adel just like many other Al-Qaeda operatives shift their base to Sudan where he taught the newly recruited terrorists how to handle explosives.

US Embassy bombing 1998
US Embassy bombing, Kenya 1998REUTERS

Saudi Arabia has suspected of his role in the 12 May 2003 suicide bombing in the capital city of Riyadh. Moreover, in 2011 Adel has also been connected with the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl, an American journalist who was kidnapped and later beheaded in Pakistan.

Amidst the top two leaders of Al-Qaeda leaders no longer alive, Adel is well poised to take over as the new 'Emir' of this deadly organization.