President Joe Biden has revealed that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, was killed by the US in a drone strike in Afghanistan.
In a counterterrorism operation on Sunday, the CIA murdered him in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.
Zawahiri, according to Vice President Biden, “crafted a trail of murder and violence against American citizens.” Now that justice has been served, this terrorist leader is no longer, he continued.
After Osama Bin Laden’s death in 2011, Zawahiri became the leader of al-Qaeda. He was one of the US’s “most sought terrorists,” and he and Bin Laden organized the 9/11 attacks together.
According to officials, the drone fired two missiles at Zawahiri as he stood on the balcony of a safe home. Others in the family were present, but they were unharmed and only Zawahiri was killed in the attack, they added.
Families of the almost 3,000 9/11 victims will now have closure with his death, said Mr. Biden.
The United States will track you down and eliminate you if you pose a threat to our citizens, Mr. Biden vowed, adding that “we shall never waver from defending our nation and its people.”
According to Mr. Biden, Zawahiri was also responsible for other violent crimes, such as the suicide bombing of the USS Cole naval warship in Aden in October 2000, which claimed the lives of 17 US soldiers, and the 223-death attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. He was adamant that terrorists would never again have a safe haven in Afghanistan.
Although Zawahiri was not mentioned, a Taliban spokesman said the US operation was clearly against international norms.
“Such actions are against the interests of the United States of America, Afghanistan, and the region,” the spokesman continued. “They are a repetition of the failed experiences of the past 20 years.”
US officials insisted that the operation was legal, nevertheless.
Zawahiri was assassinated about a year after US soldiers left Afghanistan on Vice President Biden’s orders, ending a 20-year military presence there. The Taliban vowed not to permit al-Qaeda or any other extremist group to operate in regions they control as part of a 2020 peace agreement with the US.
The Taliban and Al-Qaeda, however are long-time allies and US officials said the Taliban were aware of Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul.
According to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Taliban “grossly breached” the peace deal by harboring and entertaining Zawahiri in Kabul.
After Bin Laden was killed by US forces in May 2011, Zawahiri, an eye surgeon who assisted in the founding of the violent Egyptian Islamic Jihad, assumed control of al-Qaeda.
Prior to that, Zawahiri was frequently referred to as Bin Laden’s right-hand man and the organization’s leading ideological figure.
Some authorities thought he was the “operational brains” behind the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Since the military withdrawal in August of last year, the drone strike marks the first recorded US attack inside Afghanistan.
Days prior to the evacuation, a botched US drone strike in Kabul killed 10 innocent people, including an aid worker.
The US said it was a “tragic mistake” and had been aiming to target a local branch of the Islamic State group.