Pakistani news outlets reported Tuesday that al Qaeda had selected Saif al-Adel, an Egyptian former special forces commander, to be the interim head of the Islamist terrorist group.
According to the News International, an English-language newspaper, "the issue of the succession of Osama bin Laden was resolved in a meeting of al-Qaeda held at an undisclosed location."
The reports in the Pakistani press said al-Adel will be the interim leader of al Qaeda while Muhammad Mustafa Yamni, a Yemeni living somewhere in Africa, is being groomed for the top post.
U.S. intelligence officials on Tuesday could not confirm the reports.
But CNN and Time magazine quoted a former al Qaeda leader, Noman Benotman, as saying al-Adel was the interim leader of the terrorist group.
The selection of al-Adel, if confirmed, would be a snub to Osama bin Laden's longtime deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri. According to the Pakistani press, al-Zawahri, also an Egyptian, will remain the deputy commander of al Qaeda.
Al-Adel, one of al Qaeda's most senior operational commanders, has spent most of the past 10 years in Iran under a loose form of house arrest.
But he is thought to have migrated back to Pakistan in 2008 along with other senior al Qaeda operatives in Iran on similar terms.
Al-Adel has a $5 million bounty on his head and is wanted in specific connection to the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa, which killed more than 200 people, most of them Africans.
The selection of al-Adel, if confirmed, also shows that none of bin Laden's sons was selected for the top post.
Pakistani press reports said none of bin Laden's sons expressed interest in leading al Qaeda.
In his memoir, former CIA Director George J. Tenet said al-Adel, while he was in Iran, led al Qaeda's efforts to procure a nuclear device.
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