Killing of al-Qaida leader is long-sought ‘justice’: Biden
Washington, Aug 2 (AP) President Joe Biden announced that al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri was killed in a US drone strike in Kabul, an operation he hailed as delivering “justice” while expressing hope that it brings “one more measure of closure” to families of the victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
The president said in a Monday evening address from the White House that US intelligence officials tracked al-Zawahri to a home in downtown Kabul where he was hiding out with his family. The president approved the operation last week and it was carried out Sunday.
Al-Zawahri and the better known Osama bin Laden plotted the 9/11 attacks that brought many ordinary Americans their first knowledge of al-Qaida. Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, in an operation carried out by US Navy Seals after a nearly decade-long hunt.
“He will never again, never again, allow Afghanistan to become a terrorist safe haven because he is gone and we’re going to make sure that nothing else happens,” Biden said.
“This terrorist leader is no more,” he added.
The operation is a significant counterterrorism win for the Biden administration just 11 months after American troops left the country after a two-decade war.
The strike was carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to five people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Neither Biden nor the White House detailed the CIA’s involvement in the strike.
Biden, however, paid tribute to the US intelligence community in his remarks, noting that “thanks to their extraordinary persistence and skill”, the operation was a “success.”
Al-Zawahri’s loss eliminates the figure who more than anyone shaped al-Qaida, first as bin Laden’s deputy since 1998, then as his successor. Together, he and bin Laden turned the jihadi movement’s guns to target the United States, carrying out the deadliest attack ever on American soil the September 11 suicide hijackings.
The house Al-Zawahri was in when he was killed was owned by a top aide to senior Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, according to a senior intelligence official. The official also added that a CIA ground team and aerial reconnaissance conducted after the drone strike confirmed al-Zawahri’s death.