Osama bin Laden’s longtime top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, has assumed command of al Qaeda, and a website associated with the terrorist group is calling on “lone wolf” agents to target and kill 40 prominent Americans at their homes in the U.S The Washington Times reported on June 16,2011.

The list prompted the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to issue an intelligence bulletin to law enforcement agencies nationwide and to notify the U.S. officials, business and political leaders, think tank executives and defense contractors targeted on the “hit list.”

An Egyptian surgeon, al-Zawahri brokered the June 2001 merger of al Qaeda and his own terror group, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which was responsible for the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981.

As the No. 2 leader of al Qaeda, al-Zawahri helped plan the Sept. 11 attacks and was responsible for the terrorist group’s contingency plans after the attacks and for arranging safe haven for the group’s leaders in Pakistan and Iran.

Al Qaeda portrays Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas in November 2009, as a hero.

Mary Habeck, a former specialist on political Islam for the National Security Council, says that:

Zawahri has neither the strategic vision nor the organizational and people skills that bin Laden had. He has alienated many people in the jihadist movement, including a large number of Egyptian radicals.

Ms. Habeck is also a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

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