The US State Department has identified Saif al-Adel, an Iran-based Egyptian, as the head of Al-Qaeda following the July 2022 death of Ayman al-Zawahiri, AFP reported.
"Our assessment aligns with that of the UN – that Al-Qaeda's new de facto leader Saif al-Adel is based in Iran," a State Department spokesperson said on Wednesday.
A United Nations report released Tuesday said that the predominant view of member states is that Adel is now the group's leader, "representing continuity for now."
However, the report said that the group has not formally declared him "emir" because of sensitivity to the concerns of the Taliban authorities in Afghanistan, who haven't wanted to acknowledge that Zawahiri was killed by a US rocket in a home in Kabul last year.
In addition, the UN report said, the Sunni Islamist Al-Qaeda is sensitive to the issue of Adel residing in largely Shiite Iran.
Adel, 62, is a former Egyptian special forces lieutenant-colonel and figure in the old guard of Al-Qaeda.
He helped build the group's operational capacity and trained some of the hijackers who took part in the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States, according to the US Counter Extremism Project.
The United States is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the arrest of Adel.
US President Joe Biden confirmed last August that Al-Zawahiri had been killed in a US air strike in Afghanistan.
Biden said he authorized the strike on “clear and convincing evidence” of Al-Zawahiri’s location, and added that none of Al-Zawahiri’s family members were hurt and there were no civilian casualties.
Reports said that Al-Zawahiri was killed by two missiles fired from a drone in the skies over his Kabul home.
The Taliban later claimed it has not found the body of al-Zawahiri and is continuing its investigations into the matter.