Ayman al-Zawahiri, New Al-Qaeda Leader

After Osama bin Laden's death on May 1, the world's most hunted terrorist group Al-Qaeda named its long-time second in command Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri to succeed bin Laden's role as the group's Chief-in-Charge.

"The general command of Al-Qaeda announces, after consultations, the appointment of Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri as head of the group," the extremist gourp said in statement posted on an Islamist website last Thursday.

The statement also said that under Zawahiri's leadership Al-Qaeda would relentlessly pursue its 'jihad' (holy war) against the United States and Israel.

"We seek with the aid of God to call for the religion of truth and incite our nation to fight ... by carrying out jihad against the apostate invaders ... with their head being crusader America and its servant Israel, and whoever supports them," said the statement.

The fight would continue "until all invading armies leave the land of Islam."

The extremist network affirmed that it would not "recognise any legitimacy of the so-called State of Israel."

"We will not accept or adhere to any agreement or accord that recognises it (Israel) or that robs a mile from Palestine, whether it is the United Nations controlled by top criminals or any other organisation."

Like Osama bin Laden, the 59-year-old surgeon Ayman al-Zawahiri has been hiding ever since the United States declared its war on terror after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Ayman al-Zawahiri , now considered the United State's most wanted man, was jailed for three years in Egypt for militancy and was implicated in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in 1981, and a 1997 massacre of tourists in Luxor.

Facing a death sentence, he left Egypt in the mid-1980s initially for Saudi Arabia, but soon headed for Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar where the resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was based, and then to Afghanistan, where he joined forces with Osama bin Laden.