Cairo, Egypt The family of Ayman al-Zawahri, the top aide to Osama bin Laden, has published a death notice saying al-Zawahri's wife and children have been killed in Afghanistan.
"The family of Dr. Ayman al-Zawahri declares to the Muslim nation the death of Azza Anwar Nuwaira and her children," said the notice published Friday in the obituary columns of the leading Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram. Earlier reports said they were killed in a U.S. airstrike, and the notice said they died as martyrs.
Wednesday, a Muslim activist in London, Hani el-Saba'ei, told The Associated Press that al-Zawahri's wife and three daughters had been killed on Dec. 2 by U.S. bombs in Kandahar, the last major Taliban stronghold. He said several other relatives of Arab members of bin Laden's al-Qaida network were also killed.
In Washington, a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the United States had credible reports that members of al-Zawahri's immediate family were killed in a U.S. airstrike.
A doctor trained in Cairo, al-Zawahri, 50, is the leader of Islamic Jihad, an Egyptian militant group blamed for the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat.
He went to Afghanistan in the 1980s to fight the occupying Soviet troops. In 1998, he merged Jihad with al-Qaida and other militant groups. The following year, he was condemned to death in absentia in Egypt for activities linked to Jihad.
Al-Zawahri is considered to be bin Laden's chief strategist and the No. 2 person in the al-Qaida network.
Thursday, the spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the British government was receiving "persistent reports" that al-Zawahri himself died in U.S. strikes, but a U.S. official said Friday that U.S. intelligence had not confirmed that report.