Al Qaeda's Number-Two Man Surrounded, Close To Being Captured

Ayman al-Zawahiri believed to be Osama bin Laden's deputy and doctor.

Pakistani forces have apparently surrounded al Qaeda's number-two man after heavy fighting near the Pakistan border with Afghanistan.

News reports indicate that Ayman al-Zawahiri is close to being captured. He is believed to be Osama bin Laden's deputy and doctor — the person who's worked closest with bin Laden in orchestrating terrorist attacks around the world.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told CNN earlier Thursday morning (March 18) that his country's armed forces had surrounded a "high-value" al Qaeda target in the treacherous terrain along the border. A heavy trade of artillery and gunfire led forces to believe that the al Qaeda soldiers were protecting an important target. Capturing al-Zawahiri would deal a significant blow to the terrorist network's forces.

The U.S. has always believed that bin Laden, if he is alive, has been hiding out in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which is notoriously difficult to navigate.

Many terrorist experts consider al-Zawahiri to be the brains of al Qaeda, and that he would be well-suited to take over operations if bin Laden were captured or killed. Al-Zawahiri is highest on the U.S.'s Most Wanted Terrorist list after bin Laden. There is a $25 million reward for information leading to his capture.

For more on the situation in the Middle East, check out "Conflicts in the Middle East."