US kills al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in drone strike
Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri—one of the most wanted terrorists in the world and the architect of the US September 11, 2001, terror attacks—has been killed in an American drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan. United States President Joe Biden stated in a televised statement that he hoped al-Zawahiri's killing would offer "closure" to the families of the 3,000 people slain in the 9/11 attacks.
Why does this story matter?
Following the 9/11 attacks, al-Zawahiri was reportedly on the run for 20 years. After Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan in 2011, al-Zawahiri took over al-Qaeda and even had a $25M US bounty on him. The 71-year-old, however, lacked the charm that helped bin Laden mobilize radicals across the globe, but he freely lent his analytical skills to the al-Qaeda cause, per experts.
Official statement over the development
Biden stated no civilians were killed or injured in their weekend operation in Kabul. "Justice has been delivered, and this terrorist leader is no more," he stated. "The United States continues to demonstrate our resolve and...capacity to defend the American people... Tonight we made clear: No matter how long it takes. No matter where you try to hide. We will find you," Biden tweeted.
Operation took place on July 31 after president's approval
US officials said al-Zawahiri was on his Kabul residence's balcony when he was struck by two Hellfire missiles on Sunday (July 31). Biden approved the operation on July 25. The building's images reportedly showed windows blown out on one story, while the remaining building appeared to be intact. Al-Zawahiri's family was also present there but "were purposely not targeted and weren't harmed," officials stated.
Al-Zawahiri's presence in Kabul, violation of 2020 Doha agreement: Officials
Meanwhile, American authorities also described al-Zawahiri's presence in Kabul as a "clear violation" of the pact reached by the Taliban with the US in 2020 in Doha, setting the stage for the US departure from Afghanistan. The Taliban agreed not to use Afghanistan as a platform for terrorism again under the 2020 Doha agreement, but experts say the group never severed links with al-Qaeda.
Taliban condemns attack citing 'international principles'
Separately, in a statement, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed the strike in Kabul on Sunday. He fiercely opposed the operation, asserting that it violated "international principles." Notably, the US's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) carried out the drone strike in Afghanistan's capital of Kabul on Sunday.Share this timeline