The world of terror is a chilling place. So much so that networks such as ABC have launched prime-time series such as Designated Survivor to showcase a few worst case scenarios that could impact North America and beyond. Call them the next-level theories of imaginative writers or you can view them as a sign of things to come.
No matter how you digest it, the hunt is on for those that threaten the democratic way of life. As the United States rushes towards a presidential election that has easily been the country’ most embarrassing era, the spectacle of terrorist activity is a focus issue that headlines the issues at hand. With new strikes and events taking place on what feels like a daily basis, it's time to drag out the faces and names that are on the most wanted list.
Terrorist group Al Qaeda was not the first cell to take aim at the West and has proven not to be the last. The death of their leader Osama Bin Laden may have forced them underground, but according to recent actions, the heartbeat of the devil is still pulsing and pumping blood.
Nothing is ever pretty and it does not matter if Donald Trump or Hillary Rodham Clinton makes their way into the Oval Office; these are the prime targets that they have to focus on. Without further introduction, let's breakdown the rogue’s gallery of those who have declared that their only goal in this life and beyond is to see the Western world destroyed.
15 Abu Zaid al Kuwaiti
Kuwaiti was something of a faith-based leader for the group who often spoke to their followers about their radical religious views. His death in 2012 left a void that may not have been filled because it took away a potential successor to its current leader and it left them without a voice to connect their spiritual dots.
According to the Telegraph, the group deemed him as a martyr in a statement using one of his aliases. "We announce the martyrdom of Sheikh Khalid al-Husainan who died as he was having his suhur meal and we pray to God to accept him in heaven," the Telegraph reported.
Without a core leader to make sense of it all, Al Qaeda has struggled to keep recruits aboard.
14 Ilyas Kashmiri
This 47-year-old was killed in 2011 after being linked to the attacks in Mumbai in 2008 and the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. According to NBC, Kashmiri was ordered to assassinate President Barack Obama before Bin Laden was killed.
That may explain why Obama strutted so hard when Bin Laden was killed (more on that later). Kashmiri, like quite a few names on this list walks a tightrope on the dead/not-dead highwire. Foreign reports have stated that he has been seen since his death while others state that senior officials have in fact embraced his death and will make good on it.
It's hard to believe that it's taken five years for such an active menace to global peace to rear his head publicly so it’s safe to say he’s outta here.
13 Atiyah Abd al-Rahman
Rahman’s relationship with Osama Bin Laden dated back to when both men were teens. To say that he was influential in the group before he was taken out in 2011 is beyond an understatement. We have a hard time publicly understanding the true balance of power within the group’s Shura council.
After Bin Laden’s death, it was said that after Ayman al-Zawahiri took over, he needed Rahman to maintain control over the group according to The Guardian. "Zawahiri needed Atiyah's experience and connections to help manage al-Qaeda," the report stated.
Rahman, like Bin Laden was involved in it all and was seen from within by many as the one who should have risen to power. He did not and his death proved that the group is consistently being dismantled.
12 Nasser Abdul Karim al-Wuhayshi
Killed in a drone strike in 2015, Wuhayshi's head was once worth $10 million to the U.S. in ransom money. Wuhayshi was a trusted advisor to Osama Bin Laden and according to NBC, was the only “outsider” to hold the number two spot or higher in the group at any time. With a long history of terror in Yemen, this villain was the mastermind behind the attempt to blow up a domestic jet in Detroit in 2009 with the help of a Nigerian citizen.
If that was not enough, Wuhayshi was foiled in two other attempts to take down American aircraft. His biggest threat was his ability to unite people as he merged the Yemen and Saudi Arabia branches of the group and fought alongside them in many battles.
Upon his death, his followers vowed to avenge him.
11 Adnan G. El Shukrijumah
Shukrijumah was an interesting figure as although he was born abroad in Saudi Arabia, he grew up in the United States. A graduate of Broward College in South Florida, the ranking member of the group was killed by Pakistani Forces in 2014 according to CNN.
His face landed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list for his involvement in plots against domestic targets in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. In 2009 it was discovered that he was a part of the plot to take out the New York Subway system which was foiled.
After his death, his peers demanded the release of his wife and children who were under wraps.
10 Khalid al-Habib
The job of a notorious field commander is a dangerous one. This is why Habib was reported as dead after a 2006 U.S. missile strike targeted him in Pakistan.
Since that strike, the man who spoke in a video entitled “Defeating the Cross,” has been cited as being both dead and alive according to the Washington Post. If he is alive, he is doing his dirty work under a new alias as he has not been on the radar as himself. Rumors persist that he has taken over as Al Qaeda’s military commander making him more dangerous than ever.
9 9. Abdelmalek Droukdel
The powerful and passionate Algerian is well-educated having earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics at the University of Blida. He spoke with the New York Times in 2008 and told them why he joined Al Qaeda. Droukdel said “God ordered us to be united, to be allied, to cooperate and fight against the idolaters in straight lines.”
He went on to point out strategic reasoning for the union saying “the same way they fight us in military allies and economic and political mass-groupings. Why shouldn’t we join our brothers while almost all these nations got united against the Muslims and separated them, and divided their land, and took away Al Aksa mosque out of their hands, and consumed their goodness, and destroyed their morals?”
8 Mokhtar Belmokhtar
Belmokhtar may or may not be dead as he has been proclaimed so on multiple occasions by both the United States and the Republic of Chad. Both countries have participated in aggression that targeted Belmokhtar. He surfaced after the Chad attack but has presumably not been seen since the US targeted him in Libya, according to the BBC.
If he is alive, the incredibly violent criminal only has one eye after he damaged himself playing with explosives a la Wyle. E. Coyote. Belmokhtar’s claim to fame is bombing a Nigerian uranium mine.
Terrorist pundits state that he may have left Al Qaeda to go solo with his own group and if that is the case, his next hit could be his deadliest one.
7 Abu Khalil al-Madani
Madani is a man of mystery as little to nothing is known about him. According to The Long War Journal, he is a Shura council member that pops up to address the legion’s followers.
In 2014, LWJ provided a transcript where Madani strove to heal the division between ISIS and Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch. He stated they were “required to form a High Shariah Committee in field of jihad, and this committee is to be led by a group of the knowledgeable ones, those known for success, those who are aware and understand the reality and the condition of the mujahideen.”
He is known more for his words than his destruction, but the trail of verbiage keeps America as the object of his disaffection.
6 Matiur Rehman
Pakistan’s Rehman holds the office of Planning Director for the sinister group. Noted for the kidnapping and subsequent murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, Rehman’s attention to detail makes him a dangerous individual.
According to the Telegraph, Rehman and his group could not break Pearl’s spirit as he refused sedation before they slit his throat. For over a decade Rehman has been a point man in the group’s reign of terror.
ABC News pointed out in 2006 why he is such a threat. "He is extremely dangerous because of his role as the crucial interface between the brains of al Qaeda and its muscle, which is mainly composed these days of Pakistani militants.”
As long as Rehman is alive, trouble lurks over the horizon.
5 Saif al-Adel
Adel was indicted by the United States for playing a part in the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. The former Egyptian military colonel is noted for his bloodthirsty ways that only take a backseat to his ability to strategize.
Adel will go down in history for assisting in the assassination plot that took out Egyptian President Anwar Al Sadat in 1981. Adel is also noted for his ability set up camps that rain recruits to execute in a manner that keeps the globe on edge.
It’s hard to imagine someone as nefarious as a father but he reportedly has five children who most certainly have been inducted into his cause. According to the FBI, a $5 million reward is up for grabs.
4 Jamel Ahmed Mohammed Ali Al-Badawi
Fox News pegged him as the “mastermind” of the USS Cole massacre. Not only did Badawi craft the scheme that killed 17 American sailors, he also executed the crime. Born in Yemen, Badawi remains at large after he escaped capture not once but twice from Yemen prisons. The crazier twist to the plot is that once he was recaptured, Yemen released him in 2007 in exchange for a pledge to the country’s president that in essence he would be a good boy according to the BBC.
The 2000 tragedy shook the heart of our core and Badawi was happy to do so. It’ no wonder that the National Security Council called the move “deeply disappointing.”
3 Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah
According to Abdullah’s indictment transcript, it was a long road from playing Egyptian soccer to ending up on the Most Wanted List. Like Adel, he is wanted for the horrific embassy bombings. But his rap sheet also includes forgery and elusiveness and he is known to skirt capture like a slithering snake.
Known as a Top 5 member of Al Qaeda, he is one of the few old school senior leaders that is still drawing breath. Thought to be in Syria, Abdullah is sitting on the hill of committed crimes without facing the wrath of western punishment.
2 Ayman al-Zawahiri
Zawahiri is the current leader of Al Qaeda and is the most wanted man in the world. The U.S. has a $25 million reward for his capture thanks to his resume of intimidation and death. When Osama Bin Laden was killed, he assumed the throne and never looked back.
He is connected with each incident that the other perpetrators on this list are famous for. Where they may be known for one disgusting moment, he dipped his toes in the waters of them all.
Figure in September 11, and you are presented with the face of evil. Zawahiri made his purpose clear in recordings that were quoted by the BBC stating he will continue as a "crusader against America and its servant Israel, and whoever supports them.”
1 Osama Bin Laden
There is little doubt who the most notorious Al Qaeda member was.
The founder and former heartbeat of the organization was directly responsible for every action that spewed out of each tentacle of the group’s various arms. He declared and reaffirmed the group’s declaration of Jihad against the West via videotaped messages from hideouts that included mountains and caverns.
In 2004, the CIA declassified a 1998 document that stated that as far back as the 20th Century, Bin Laden had plans to use our own aircraft against us.
Nobody was sorry to see him go.