Nasir al-Wuhayshi, head of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).In November 2008, Osama bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. recognized Yemen-born Nasir al-Wuhayshi (or Nasser al Wahishi) as head of Al Qaeda in the region – a position he held onto when the Yemeni and Saudi branches merged.. Christian Science Monitor says he is one of Al Qaeda's rising stars
He reportedly comes from a wealthy family and was once a former personal secretary to Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.
An intercepted conference call between Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and his top operatives was what prompted the United States to close its Middle East diplomatic missions, according to a report.
Online journal The Daily Beast, citing US intelligence sources, said more than 20 Al Qaeda operatives from across the militant group's global network were on the call.
AFP was not immediately able to confirm the report. In the call, Zawahiri reportedly named the head of the Al Qaeda branch in Yemen, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, as the operational controller of the group's affiliates throughout the Muslim world.
Mr. Wuhayshi is a short man with small eyes, "laconic but quick-witted, with flashes of sarcastic humor and a remarkable ability to adduce Koranic verses to back up anything he said."
According to Foreign Policy, "Wuhayshi has proven to be both a skilled politician and an innovative, often brutal, adversary."
In 2006, he broke out of a maximum-security prison, along with 22 other militants, in Yemen's capital city of Sanaa.
In January 2009, he spearheaded the unification of al Qaeda's Yemeni and Saudi branches under his control.