|"The idea of having nations and governments is as foolish as keeping the human and spirit realms separate. You've had to deal with a moronic president and a tyrannical queen. Don't you think the world would be better off if leaders like them were eliminated?"|
|— Zaheer explaining his ideals to Korra.|
Zaheer is the leader of the Red Lotus, a martial arts expert, and an anarchist, who strongly believes in the foundation of a new world without the Order of the White Lotus, the four nations, or the Avatar. After the Harmonic Convergence of 171 AG, he also became an airbender and, after having let go of his final earthly tether, he unlocked the ability of flight, becoming the second person ever to have done so.
While in pursuit of his goals, Zaheer and three of his comrades were captured and imprisoned in separate, high-security prisons. Upon becoming an airbender thirteen years later, he escaped the custody of the Order of the White Lotus and subsequently freed his allies from prison, including his girlfriend P'Li. He threw the Earth Kingdom into chaos by killing the Earth Queen and attempted to end the Avatar Cycle by killing Avatar Korra while she was in the Avatar State. This attempt failed and Zaheer's comrades were killed, leaving him as the only survivor of their group of four.
Following his defeat, Zaheer was once again imprisoned, this time in a new facility near Republic City. To his disappointment, he heard of Kuvira placing the people of the Earth Kingdom under her military dictatorship, thus rendering his attempt to free them from oppression futile. Hoping Korra could stop her, Zaheer helped Korra in 174 AG to meditate into the Spirit World and let go of her fear of him and of "what might have been".
Joining the Red Lotus and initial kidnapping attempt
Zaheer joined the Red Lotus as a teenager and learned about Raava and Vaatu, and Avatar Wan's decision to separate them, which he believed disrupted the world's balance. During his youth, he met a young firebender named P'Li, whom he saved from the clutches of a warlord intending to make her his personal assassin. Following this, Zaheer convinced P'Li to join the ranks of the Red Lotus, and the two eventually formed a romantic relationship. In 158 AG, Unalaq, a fellow Red Lotus member, devised a plan to kidnap Korra which Zaheer supported, as they intended to use her to re-open the spirit portals and free Vaatu, while at the same time training her in bending and the ways of the Red Lotus. Although Unalaq ultimately did not go through with the attempted abduction and remained undiscovered, Zaheer, Ghazan, P'Li, and Ming-Hua went on with his plan, though were defeated and imprisoned by Tenzin, Tonraq, Zuko, and Sokka. Despite being subjected to relentless interrogation, Zaheer and his associates refused to speak of their motives at any point.
Escape from prison
Following Harmonic Convergence, Zaheer discovered he had become an airbender just when he started to lose hope. Two weeks after Harmonic Convergence ended, he took advantage of his newfound abilities and waited to attempt his escape until his guards came to bring him his bowl of rice. With the metal covering of his cell door open, he was ordered to face the wall with his hands upon his head. As his food was being placed in his cell through an opening in the bars, Zaheer recited one of Laghima's poem verses and after explaining the meaning of the writing, he used his airbending to pull one guard against the cell bars, where he restrained him, effectively preventing the others from attacking lest they killed that guard. He opened his cell door with the keys taken from the guard's waist and used his airbending to defeat and jail all of the other guards. Zaheer cautioned them to ration the bowl of rice they had brought him, as the next shift change was three weeks away, and announced the dawn of a new age, one in which there would be no Order of the White Lotus or Avatar. Using his airbending skills, he swiftly made his way down the mountain, seeking to liberate his incarcerated comrades.
Releasing his friends
Zaheer managed to disguise himself as a White Lotus member and stole a speedboat, which he used to make his way to Ghazan's prison. There, he fought off White Lotus sentries and supplied his friend with a few rocks to help him escape. After Ghazan used his lavabending to release himself from his cell and dispatched the remaining guards, the two friends heartily greeted each other. Upon asked how he became an airbender, Zaheer explained that he believed it was a gift, bestowed upon him after Harmonic Convergence, to indicate that their path was the righteous one. Afterward, the duo journeyed to the volcano in which Ming-Hua's prison was located, intent on freeing her. Once they were within range of the waterbender's cage, Zaheer sliced the barrel of water that Ghazan had thrown in the air in half, enabling Ming-Hua to utilize it to escape. After the trio took care of the remaining sentries, Zaheer announced that they would head to the Northern Water Tribe in order to free P'Li.
As they neared P'Li's prison, Zaheer created a snow storm to mask their approach before engaging in battle with Tonraq. The new airbender evaded all of the chief's attacks, before knocking him down with an air blast. After P'Li was freed by Ming-Hua, the four criminals made a clean getaway. Happy to see each other again, Zaheer and P'Li embraced, the airbender saying he never doubted he would see her again, before sharing a passionate kiss.
Tracking the Avatar
Following the escape, Zaheer shaved his head and facial hair and made his way to Air Temple Island under the pseudonym "Yorru". He explained to Ikki and Meelo that he had heard about the island being a sanctuary for airbenders, demonstrating his newly discovered abilities by creating a small tornado in his hand.
Zaheer subsequently joined the airbending training with Meelo at the spinning gates, where he passed through them with ease, surprising everyone. Earning the compliment of being a leaf from Meelo, Zaheer returned the courtesy by bowing respectfully toward the child, saying that a student was only as good as his master. When Kya announced that they would leave the following day to join Tenzin at the Northern Air Temple, Zaheer asked if the Avatar was with him. Learning she had split from Tenzin, he took the news as "unfortunate", as he had been "looking forward to meeting her".
That night, Zaheer wandered into Tenzin's study, where he found a locket containing a poem written by Guru Laghima. He was interrupted by Ikki, who stated that no one but her father was allowed in the study. Zaheer apologized, stating he could not sleep, and when asked by the young airbender what he was reading, he explained that it was a poem of Laghima, whom he credited as the wisest airbender to have ever lived. Their conversation was cut short by the arrival of Kya, who told her niece to go back to bed, before questioning Zaheer about his knowledge of airbending history. He replied that he had always admired the culture, though Kya recognized him and attacked. Zaheer grabbed an airbender staff and used it to shatter the ice bullets aimed at him before bending himself out of the window and gliding away. His escape was short lived, however, as Kya managed to catch him with a water tentacle and slam him down in the temple's pond. Recovering, Zaheer managed to avoid being frozen and blasted Kya back, though before he could escape, two firebending White Lotus sentries arrived. By the time he had done away with them, Kya was back on her feet attacked him with spirals of water. Ducking away, the airbender retaliated with a strong current of air, knocking Kya out cold against a wall, and escaped on the glider.
Zaheer regrouped with the Red Lotus at a vine-covered apartment in Republic City, hiding from the Republic City Police. When asked by Ghazan if he wanted to try to take out President Raiko, Zaheer stated they would deal with him later as they were leaving the city. Hijacking a truck and forcing the driver to smuggle them out of the city, they made it as far as at a security checkpoint on a bridge, where they were discovered after their driver ran away. As one of the police officers turned the handle on the back doors of the vehicle, Zaheer blasted them open to keep the police back, while Ming-Hua drove away, with Ghazan and P'Li taking care of their pursuers. Taking refuge in a forest, Zaheer meditated and determined that the Avatar was with the Metal Clan in Zaofu.
Attempt to kidnap Korra
Zaheer and his gang traveled to the metal city and, with the help of Aiwei, were able to enter Suyin Beifong's estate without being noticed. Having cut an opening in the window to Korra's room, they were caught by Naga, who tried to attack. Although Ming-Hua bent three shirshu-spit darts into the polar bear dog to quiet her, Korra awoke to the sound of Naga falling and attacked, prompting Zaheer to quickly bend another paralyzing dart at her as well. With the Avatar in tow, the group began to escape, but ended up boxed in by metal plates in the estate's courtyard after Mako and Bolin alerted the Metal Clan to their presence. After Ghazan created a lava moat, melting the plates and creating a distance between the two groups, Zaheer attempted to use the smoke coming from the moat to create some cover by spinning his staff over his head. However, this motion enabled one of the guards to reel him in with a metal cable. Although he managed to free himself, he was forced to take on two metalbenders. When he noticed that Suyin and Lin Beifong had managed to save Korra, he attempted to pursue, though found himself grounded after Suyin pierced the wings of his glider with four metal arrows. Landing near his friends, he angrily declared their mission a failure and used the smoke to cover their retreat.
Explaining his motives
Zaheer and his companions made camp in a cave located at the outskirts of the Misty Palms Oasis, where he meditated into the Spirit World at sundown to meet Aiwei at Xai Bau's Grove. He blamed the truth seer for the Red Lotus' failure at Zaofu and the fact that they had now been compromised. Although Aiwei assured him that all incriminating evidence had been destroyed, Zaheer labeled Aiwei to be a loose end himself. As he grabbed him, Zaheer noticed Korra's presence, though before the Avatar could do something, the airbender teleported to the Fog of Lost Souls, where he condemned the truth seer to an eternity in the mental prison. Returning to Xai Bau's Grove, he learned that Korra had tracked him down by following Aiwei and offered her a chance to talk and find some answers. He revealed that he and his companions were members of the Red Lotus and told the Avatar of the organization's origin and purpose. Meanwhile, in the physical world, he secretly revealed Korra's location at the Misty Palms Inn to his associates, who were guarding his body.
In the Spirit World, Zaheer kept the conversation with Korra going by elaborating on Unalaq's idea to kidnap her as a child, which was meant to bring balance to the world as she would have been used to re-open the spirit portals and release Vaatu. Rebuffing Korra's statement that they had different ideas of balance, Zaheer suggested that opening the spirit portals should only be the beginning, as the idea of separating the world in nations and governments was as foolish as separating the human from the spirit realm. He pointed out that she had already had to deal with a "moronic president" and a "tyrannical queen" and reminded the doubtful Avatar that it had been the Fire Lord's ambition for world dominance that had led to the Air Nomad Genocide. Stating the natural order to be disorder, he believed that true freedom could only be achieved when oppressive governments were dismantled and cited another one of Guru Laghima's sayings to emphasize his point: "New growth cannot exist without first the destruction of the old." Zaheer went on to explain he had begun to lose hope during his imprisonment, though when he had discovered his airbending abilities, he was strengthened in his belief that he was the one who could usher in the new era. He warned Korra that once change began, it could not be stopped. At her request to know what would happen if she was captured, he merely told her she would have her answer soon enough, assuming his accomplices to have captured her body by that point, and vanished.
Upon his return to the physical world, Zaheer was informed by Ming-Hua and Ghazan that Earth Queen Hou-Ting's army had gotten to the Avatar first, though that they had managed to capture Mako and Bolin. Zaheer instructed them to load the brothers in the truck, telling them they were going to Ba Sing Se.
Toppling the Earth Queen
Arriving at Ba Sing Se, Zaheer ordered Ghazan to gag Mako and Bolin. Upon gaining an audience with Earth Queen Hou-Ting, Zaheer assured her they wanted no bounty and that the brothers were merely a "thank you" gift for her taking time to talk to them. Zaheer used the location of the "stolen" airbenders as a bargaining chip to trade with the Queen for Korra, as he reasoned that that if she were to imprison the Avatar, she would invoke the wrath of the other nations, whereas if she handed Korra over to him, no one needed to know and she would still be rid of the Avatar while being able to get her airbenders back with no interference. With a deal having been reached, the four were escorted to an antechamber by Grand Secretariat Gun.
As the group relaxed, Zaheer noticed a Dai Li agent moving rapidly toward the queen's throne room. Intrigued, he used his airbending to secretly follow him and he overheard the agent telling Hou-Ting that the airship transporting Korra had crashed in the Si Wong Desert. Relaying the information to the others upon his return, it became clear that they would not be able to get to Korra before the Queen and Zaheer decided that he was through chasing her, declaring that it was time to make Korra come to them.
Zaheer blasted open the doors to the throne room and told the queen of their disappointment regarding the news on Korra. Deeming their eavesdropping actions to be punishable with imprisonment, the Red Lotus was offered the chance to evade arrest if they would give up the location of the airbenders. When Zaheer warned her that was not the deal, a fight ensued between them and the Dai Li, who were ordered to imprison them all. After the group easily defeated the earthbenders, Zaheer confronted the now defenseless queen. Stating he did not believe in queens, he used his airbending to pull the air from her lungs. While suffocating her in a sphere devoid of air, he told her that freedom was not something she could give or take on a whim, but that is was just as essential as air to her people and that without it, there was no life, only darkness. He emphasized his words by using his airbending to suck the breath from the Queen's lungs, asphyxiating her.
With the queen murdered, Zaheer, Ming-Hua, and P'Li went to the city's radio control room, asking the operator how he could make an announcement to the city. As the man did not immediately cooperate, Ming-Hua grabbed him with a water tendril, prompting Zaheer to tell her to let go, as their goal was to help citizens like him. After the operator turned on the radio, Zaheer told the citizens that he and other revolutionaries had brought down the queen. Without revealing his identity, he simply told the people he was returning the city in their hands, as he believed they had no need for leaders telling them what to do and were free to find their own path.
Afterward, Zaheer ventured to the prison underneath the Earth Kingdom Royal Palace and released all the prisoners, save for Mako and Bolin. After dodging a fire blast from Mako, he threw the brothers back with airbending and implored them to listen to him. He calmly explained he was releasing them so they could relay a message from him to Korra.
Threatening the Air Nation
Zaheer and his associates arrived to the Northern Air Temple on a Ba Sing Se airship. He jumped down onto a walkway and intercepted Tenzin and his family as the rest of the Red Lotus gathered the temple's occupants into a courtyard. There, Zaheer expressed his pleasure to meet a "true airbending master" and told the group he wanted nothing, saying if they cooperated, everyone would escape unharmed. Asked by Tenzin why he came, the airbender stated he wanted Korra and had enough of the chase for her, telling Tenzin he would be using the airbenders for leverage. He also told him he had no choice, but, along with Ghazan and Ming-Hua, was promptly attacked by the master.
Zaheer recovered and dueled with Tenzin. The criminal was forced to rapidly scale the temple's walls as he was continuously attacked. Zaheer tried to counter, but his foe merely broke up his attacks, continuing to force him on the defensive as they climbed to a walkway ledge. At one point, Zaheer was knocked down but recovered, and jumped over Tenzin, nearly attacking him from behind. Tenzin again blocked the attack and soon knocked Zaheer down a second time. Just as the Red Lotus leader was about to be finished off, however, his associates swarmed in, with P'Li knocking Tenzin down from the ledge with a combustion beam and back into the courtyard. With the help of his friends, Zaheer gained the upper hand, though was briefly knocked down again by an air blast. After P'Li blasted Tenzin into a wall, Zaheer, Ghazan, and Ming-Hua surrounded him; the criminal airbender told his foe to give up. With the master refusing to yield, Zaheer dodged a quick air blast and countered. After this did not work, the three Red Lotus members began a relentless barrage on Tenzin.
In the Northern Air Temple's radio room, Zaheer was informed by Korra that she would agree to his terms. Wanting to sustain leverage, he told her to meet her at Laghima's Peak at noon on her own; once she was in his captivity, he would release the airbenders. Afterward, he made his way to a small room with a statue of Laghima in it, reciting the guru's writing about letting go an earthly tether and entering the void. He was soon approached by P'Li, who told him the airbenders were secured. Zaheer thanked his girlfriend for her loyalty and told her he thought about her every day while in prison. Afterward, she thanked him for freeing her from a warlord and showing her true freedom. The airbender assured her the whole world would soon know as such, and the two expressed their love and shared a kiss.
Zaheer and P'Li went to the top of Laghima's Peak; upon Korra's arrival, the airbender demanded she drop her airbender staff and surrender, threatening to come after her if she refused. He was told to tell Ghazan to let the airbenders go first, but he told her it was not a negotiation and she would have to do what he said. With the Avatar still hesitant, Zaheer radioed Ghazan to wipe the airbenders out, but promptly told him to stand down when Korra decided to surrender. He told his associate they had Korra secure before he and P'Li led her to their airship. Before they got there, Korra found out the Red Lotus had double-crossed Team Avatar and Zaheer was attacked with air, fire, and earth. He dodged the attacks and threw her down with two blades of air, taking her to the airship while P'Li dealt with the approaching Lin, Suyin, and Metal Clan guards. Just as he began walking up the ramp, however, Tonraq arrived and attacked with water tendrils. While dodging, Zaheer threw the Avatar aside, briefly sending her off the cliff, but she was saved by Tonraq, forcing the criminal to have to deal with both benders.
Zaheer warded off Korra and Tonraq's strikes with both his bending and agility, barely escaping defeat when he was knocked down by a small line of earth by Korra but dodging out of the way of a blade of ice used by Tonraq. He spun up a tornado and threw the Avatar's father off a cliff. Soon after, however, P'Li was killed by Suyin, stunning the airbender and leaving him vulnerable to attack. He jumped around Korra's blasts, however, and knocked her out with a blade of air. With nowhere to go, however, and surrounded by the metalbenders, he again recited Laghima's poem about letting go of one's earthly tether and slipped from the cliff's edge. Having lost his last earthly attachment, P'Li, he was able to enter the void and achieve weightlessness, taking flight and escaping his foes.
Zaheer took Korra to a Red Lotus prison and returned to his allies, telling them how he had achieved flight: letting go of his tethers and entering the void. He also told an inquiring Ming-Hua that P'Li had given herself up for their cause and her sacrifice would not be in vain. Checking up on Korra, he told the enraged Avatar that he understood her grief over losing her father, since he had lost a loved one himself, before telling a Red Lotus guard to bring out a poisonous substance. The airbender told her the poison would trigger the Avatar State before he and his associates would kill her, ending the Avatar Cycle, saying it would bring on a world where man was allied only with himself and loved ones and in natural order without borders nor an Avatar.
After telling a guard to administer the poison, Zaheer told his associates to prepare to take her out upon her entering the Avatar State, telling Ghazan she could not resist for long. He soon realized the poison was working as her resistance weakened, watching as the state fully activated. At that moment, Zaheer told his allies to attack, but Korra used her enhanced strength to get out of her bonds and counter. After dodging powerful blasts of earth and fire, Zaheer flew away, but was aggressively pursued by the Avatar.
Upon being charged, Zaheer threw Korra to a stone pillar, but she managed to slide down it and continue attacking. Flying around the mountain, the agile criminal dodged several rocks and fire blasts before countering with three air whips, knocking his foe to the ground once again. He promptly flew at her and threw her further down a cliffside. However, Korra recovered and the airbender was soon targeted with a large boulder, which he quickly dodged. His ankle was promptly frozen in place by a water whip, causing him to descend rapidly. However, when she proved too physically weakened to land the decisive blow and landed on a cliffside, he used an air punch to shatter the ice and fly to Korra, telling her she could not fight him and the poison. Zaheer soon knocked her further down the cliff with two close-range air blasts and onto a stone pillar.
Declaring the poison did its work, the criminal surrounded her in air and began to suffocate her in a ball of air. At that moment, however, the freed airbenders raised a tornado to their location. He released Korra and grabbed her, attempting to fly away. The tornado ensnared them and he was unable to maintain his grip on her. Zaheer tried to escape, but was grabbed by one of Korra's chains and thrown to the ground. He was detained by Lin and Suyin in an earthen prison, but seeing Korra unable to awaken, laughed and declared the Red Lotus had won. His joy turned to shock, however, when Suyin used her metalbending to remove the metallic poison from within the Avatar. The airbender protested that the Avatar's allies were halting the beginning of the revolution and chaos as the natural order, but was silenced when Bolin stuck a sock in his mouth. He was subsequently imprisoned in an underground chamber located in the mountain range outside Republic City, where he was chained in place to limit his movement. With no freedom in the physical world, Zaheer frequently meditated into the Spirit World.
After three years, Zaheer was visited by Korra in his underground prison cell and concluded that she must really be in trouble if she came to see him. When she explained that she had merely come to declare that he had no power over her and that she would no longer be afraid of him, Zaheer flew directly toward her. As she cowered back, his chains prevented him from reaching her, he started to laugh and noted that she still looked scared to him. He halted her from leaving, however, by revealing that he knew she was there because she had been unable to go into the Spirit World, much to Korra's surprise. He explained that he spent most of his time in the spiritual realm, where it was well-known that the Avatar's spirit had not been there in years. When Korra incredulously asked if he really could meditate into the Spirit World from his dungeon, since it did not feel spiritually charged, Zaheer declared that to be her problem: the inability to tap into the spiritual energy around her. He remained unfazed as Korra unloaded on him, blaming him for having ruined her, and simply noted that she was using him as a crutch to make herself feel better. When Korra sadly stated that perhaps it was time she accepted that she would never be the same, Zaheer pointed out that neither of them were the same as before their encounter; he had learned how to fly though was bound by his chains, and while Korra had all the power in the world and the freedom to use it, she chose to hold herself down. He explained that he believed her powers to be limitless, since she had been able to fight off the mercury poison that should have killed her.
Zaheer grew self-conscious about his actions, however, when Korra sarcastically thanked him for assassinating Hou-Ting, which allowed Kuvira, "the worst dictator the Earth Kingdom [had] ever seen", to rise to power. Having heard of her, he declared that Kuvira needed to be stopped and offered to help Korra get over her mental block by guiding her into the Spirit World. When she refused, noting he was not to be trusted, Zaheer pointed out that while that may be so, she would not have been there if she had any other options and, although they had been enemies before, their interest aligned for the time being. Zaheer rose into the air and assumed a lotus position, urging Korra to focus on the sound of his voice and clear her mind. As she was haunted by another vision of him trying to asphyxiate her, Zaheer told her to let the vision run its course and accept what had happened to her, as opposed to holding on to a fear of what might have been. When Korra plummeted down in the vision toward the heart of the vortex, he comfortingly noted that she did not need to be afraid and needed to hold on. They both managed to cross over to the Spirit World and, upon being asked if he knew where Jinora, Ryu, and the souls of the other tourists were kept, Zaheer simply replied that Korra already possessed that knowledge before letting his spirit fade back into the physical world.
Although imprisoned, Zaheer remained on Korra's mind, as for three years after his encounter with her, the Avatar kept seeing visions of the Red Lotus leader trying to kill her, which prevented her from entering the Spirit World. In a swamp-induced vision, Zaheer appeared to Korra again in the situation where he was looking as she was struggling to stay out of the Avatar State. When she gasped in horror, Zaheer's apparition reacted and turned around to look at her. Later, he appeared to her again while she was bending the residual traces of mercury out of her body. As she gasped again upon seeing Zaheer, she was urged by Toph Beifong to let go of her fear of him as her battle with the airbender had ended.
Zaheer's character was also featured in Varrick's story of Bolin, Hero of the World, in which he was described as a "flying, chaotic, chaos machine". He teamed up with Amon, Vaatu, and begrudgingly with Unalaq to take out their common nemesis, Bolin, for which he arranged a conference call. Upon ringing Vaatu, he joked that he was glad to have caught him at home, jabbing at the spirit's imprisonment in the Tree of Time. After Unalaq entered the conversation as well, Zaheer and his two other companions tried to get rid of the Chief of the North and eventually just hung up on him. Zaheer was said to be defeated when Bolin pushed him into a tornado, turning him into wind forever.
Zaheer is a staunch anarchist who sees chaos as the only acceptable world order. He is willing to destroy anyone who stands against him and resorts to extreme measures in his campaign to eliminate the governments of the world. However, he is not indiscriminately violent, as he shows no desire to needlessly attack others who pose no threat to him or his ideals, which was demonstrated when he told Ming-Hua to release an innocent radio operator in Ba Sing Se. At the same time, he genuinely cares for the people he trusts, such as P'Li, Ghazan, and Ming-Hua, whom he treats as equals even though he is their leader. Zaheer's love for P'Li was of such magnitude that she was his last earthly tether and it was only after her death that he was able to fly. However, his more caring nature does not prevent him from doing away with those whom he deems a liability for his goals, as exemplified when he condemned Aiwei's spirit to roam the Fog of Lost Souls for eternity.
He is clever and innovative, able to plan quickly and efficiently, as well as charming and charismatic when he needed to be, enabling him to sweet talk his way into homes or strike deals with people. He is intelligent and patient, though he is also capable of ruthless violence, as demonstrated by his murder of Hou-Ting and attempted murders of Tonraq and Korra. Although generally composed, he can lose his temper in complete defeat, as evidenced when he started to rant upon witnessing Korra's survival.
Though he does not care for the idea of nations, borders, or politics, Zaheer has an affinity for the Air Nomads' philosophy and mindset, save for their pacifistic nature. When he became an airbender, he took it as a sign that the path of the Red Lotus was a righteous one and used his knowledge of Air Nomad culture to quickly develop his new skills.
Blaming governments and world leaders to be the cause of the greatest imbalances in the world, Zaheer holds the belief that disorder is the only true order, a philosophy that promotes chaos and pandemonium as the true attributes of freedom and individuality.
Despite being defeated by the Avatar and imprisoned, Zaheer maintained a strong belief in his goals and still worked to achieve them. As such, he showed no resentment toward Korra for defeating him and even agreed to help her when he learned that his assassination of Hou-Ting allowed Kuvira to place the Earth Kingdom under her military dictatorship.
Despite only having airbending abilities for a short time and being self-taught, Zaheer displays high proficiency in the art. He is capable of creating large air currents capable of knocking people off balance, as well as increasing his agility to evade attacks, enabling him to take on multiple benders at a time. He could even defeat Kya, a master waterbender, while fending off White Lotus sentries. Although he is not as powerful as a full-fledged master like Tenzin, he was proficient enough in combat to more or less hold his own against the more experienced airbender, though he needed the assistance of his companions to defeat the master. He is also capable of using a glider, both in combat and as a means of transportation despite having no training in using one. He can take on multiple opponents at once and, since he is not a pacifist like most airbenders, he also uses his airbending in a more offensive and even lethal manner, such as pulling the air out of Hou-Ting's lungs and suffocating her.
During a battle to rescue Korra from the Red Lotus, Zaheer developed the ability of flight through the teachings of Guru Laghima, becoming the first airbender in four thousand years to do so. As a result of P'Li's death at the hands of Suyin, Zaheer let go of his final earthly tether and jumped off the mountain, with Korra over his shoulder, flying off toward the stolen airship acquired by Ming-Hua and Ghazan. Zaheer has demonstrated that the power of flight allows for fast and agile movements, being able to out-speed an injured Korra while she was in the Avatar State and perform airbending attacks while airborne. His flight abilities can be hindered, however, as demonstrated when he began to fall after Korra froze one of his feet and when he could not escape the pull of a tornado created by Tenzin's airbenders.
Even prior to obtaining airbending, Zaheer was already remarkably agile and acrobatic. He was a master of several forms of martial arts and had extensive combat experience. He was deemed dangerous enough to be detained in an isolated prison similar to his bending cohorts and had to turn his back to the cell doors with his hands behind his head while receiving food.
Zaheer is also well-versed in Air Nomad philosophy and history, mainly teachings of the legendary airbender, Guru Laghima, whom he holds in high regard. Through meditation, Zaheer was capable of entering the Spirit World and freely teleport himself and others to various places in that realm. His extensive practice and training in meditation gives him the ability to communicate with his physical body while his soul is still in the Spirit World.
He is also proficient in the art of public speaking, capable of swaying the public opinion to support his goals, as he demonstrated in his speech to the people of Ba Sing Se.
- Zaheer is a common name in West and South Asia as well as North Africa that is inspired by the Islamic concept of Quran interpretation, which can be divided into its "apparent meaning" or zahir (Arabic: ) and its "inner meaning" or batin (Arabic: ). Prior to Zaheer's escape from his prison, he explained to a White Lotus sentry a similar concept in interpreting the poetry of Guru Laghima, with zahir relating to "what you see" and batin relating to the "truth within the myth". Zahir is associated with Arabic, Hebrew, Urdu, Swahili, and Turkish languages.
- The name Zaheer is also similar to the word "zehir" ( زہر ), which means "poison" in Turkish and Urdu, relating to how he used poison in an attempt to kill Korra.
- Zaheer is the second known non-Avatar airbender to kill, Gyatso being the first.
- Zaheer has cauliflower ear from a career of fighting.
- Zaheer is the second known person to have committed regicide, the first being Ozai, who killed his father, Fire Lord Azulon.
- Zaheer is the second known person to have guided Korra into the Spirit World, the first being Jinora.
- Zaheer is the second known person to almost end the Avatar Cycle by killing the Avatar in the Avatar State, the first being Azula when she shot Aang.
- Along with his fellow Red Lotus members, Zaheer developed a vagabond form of combat, picking up moves as he traveled around the globe and adapting those techniques to his own personal style.