Al-Qaedas leader Ayman al-Zawahriconsidered a significant force behind the September 11 attackswas killed on the weekend by an American drone strike in Afghanistans capital city of Kabul, President Joe Biden announced Monday evening.
Biden said al-Zawahri carved a trail of murder and violence against Americans, especially by serving as al-Qaedas second-in-command on September 11 so when the groups top leader for over ten years.
No civilians were killed in the drone strike, in accordance with Biden.
Al-Zawahri was killed by two Hellfire missiles while at a safe house, and even though members of his family were also present in the home, these were not targeted or harmed, a senior administration official told reporters.
American intelligence agencies tracked down al-Zawahris location in downtown Kabul earlier this season, and Biden approved the precision strike yesterday, the president said.
The senior administration official described the killing as a significant blow to al-Qaedas central organization, which includes diminished in power recently but continues to be vocally focused on attacking U.S. and Western targets.
The strike also raises questions about al-Qaedas still-lingering ties with the Taliban, which took over Afghanistan last August: Al-Zawahri moved to Kabul within the last year, Biden said, and members of the Haqqani networka U.S.-designated terrorist group with links to the Talibanwere alert to al-Zawahris presence, based on the administration official.
A Taliban spokesperson confirmed on Twitter earlier Monday a U.S. drone struck a residential neighborhood in Kabul on Sunday, a move the group condemned (the Taliban wasnt notified of the strike in advance, the senior administration official said).
A surgeon by trade, al-Zawahri originally hailed from Cairo and led a faction of an organization called the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which sought to overthrow Egypts secular government, based on the nonpartisan 9/11 Commission report. He joined forces with al-Qaeda by the late 1990s, and began serving as Osama bin Ladens top deputy because the group planned a number of terrorist attacks against U.S. targets that culminated in the September 11 attacks, which killed almost 3,000 people. Al-Zawahri and bin Laden were located in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan during the 2001 hijackings, and both men narrowly survived as U.S. forces responded by toppling the Taliban government and attacking al-Qaeda units. In the years following a attacks, al-Qaeda released occasional videos featuring al-Zawahri, who was simply widely believed to be hiding in Pakistans tribal areas. He took over because the groups top leader after U.S. forces killed bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, and regardless of the U.S. government supplying a $25 million reward for his capture, al-Zawahri remained most importantly for greater than a decade.
The death of al-Zawahri marks the most important airstrike on an Afghan target because the Taliban retook control of the united states amid the U.S. militarys withdrawal almost this past year. The Biden Administration has pledged to retain the opportunity to perform counterterrorism strikes in Afghanistan despite the fact that U.S. troops are no more present on the floor. Days prior to the U.S. withdrawal ended last August, 10 Kabul civilians were killed in a botched drone strike targeting the Islamic States offshoot in Afghanistan.
It is a developing story; it’ll be updated.