States President Joe Biden revealed that Osama bin Laden‘s successor and al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri had been killed in a drone strike. Zawahiri, who was 71 years old, had remained a visible symbol of the terrorist organization for 11 years after bin Laden’s death. At one point, he acted as bin Laden’s personal physician.
According to White House press secretary Joe Biden, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri was sheltering in downtown Kabul to reunite with his family. He was killed in what a senior administration official described as “a precise tailored airstrike” using two Hellfire missiles. The strike was authorized by Biden following weeks of meetings with his Cabinet and key advisers, the official said on Monday, adding that no American personnel were on the ground in Kabul at the time of the strike. Senior Haqqani Taliban figures were aware of Zawahiri’s presence in the area; the official said they took steps to conceal his presence after Saturday’s successful strike, restricting access to the safe house and rapidly relocating members of his family, including his daughter and her children—who were intentionally not targeted during the strike and remained unharmed. The US did not alert Taliban officials ahead of Saturday’s strike.
The Taliban, in a series of tweets, said they are investigating an air strike that occurred on July 31 in Kabul. The Taliban referred to the attack as a “clear violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement.” CNN later reported that al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri was killed in the attack. The tweets came out prior to CNN reporting Zawahiri’s death.
‘Justice has been delivered’
Biden, who was kept abreast of the strike against Zawahiri as he isolated with a rebound case of Covid-19, spoke Monday outside the White House. The White House said in a statement that the president has authorized “an operation to take out” Zawahiri. “For decades, he was the mastermind of attacks against Americans,” Biden said at a press conference Monday. “Now justice has been delivered.”
One year after ordering the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, President Obama conducted a precision airstrike targeting al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. It was “the result of the extraordinary persistence and skill” of the nation’s intelligence community. Intelligence officials located Zawahiri earlier this year — he moved to downtown Kabul to reunite with members of his immediate family, Biden said. The strike comes one year after Biden ordered the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, prompting Taliban forces to rapidly seize control of the nation. Biden said on Monday that when he withdrew US troops from the country, he “made the decision that after 20 years of war, the United States no longer needed thousands of boots on the ground in Afghanistan to protect America from terrorists who seek to do us harm, and I made a promise to the American people, that we continue to conduct effective counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and beyond. We’ve done just that.”
President Obama said today he hopes the killing of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden by US forces brings “some measure of closure” to the families of victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks. In addition to thanking the intelligence and counterterrorism communities, he praised them for “a job well done” and said that with bin Laden dead, al Qaeda is “not only weakened but its brand has lost its appeal.” He also pledged that “justice will be done” for those who might seek to strike at the United States or American interests in any way.