The terrorist group al-Qaeda has named Egyptian national Saif al-Adel as its interim leader, pending the formal appointment of a replacement for Osama bin Laden, news reports said Wednesday.
The group, which was behind the September 2001 attack on New York, has been headless since its founder and leader, Saudi-born bin Laden, was killed by US special forces in Pakistan on May, DPA reported.
A former colonel in the Egyptian special forces, al-Adel, also known as Muhammad Ibrahim Makkawi, fought in Afghanistan against the Soviets in the 1980s, CNN reported.
In 2001, he fled to Iran, where he reportedly spent nine years under house arrest, before travelling to Pakistan last year to join al-Qaeda operations there.
He is believed to have been a member of the group's military committee for many years.
Al-Adel was indicted by the United States for his suspected role in the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Tanzania, the Israel Nation News reported on its website.
His appointment to caretaker head was probably not made by al-Qaeda's formal shura council, due to practical restrictions on such a meeting, but by a small group of local leaders in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area, CNN quoted a former Islamist leader as saying.
Noman Benotman, former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, told the news broadcaster that some elements within the group might object to the appointment of an Egyptian over other candidates from the Arabian Peninsula.