WASHINGTON, D.C, Aug. 2 : Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a U.S. strike in Afghanistan over the weekend, President Joe Biden said on Monday (August 1), the biggest blow to the militant group since its founder Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011.
Zawahiri, an Egyptian surgeon who had a $25 million bounty on his head, helped coordinate the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the United States carried out a drone strike in the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday morning at 6:18 a.m. local time.
“Now justice has been delivered, and this terrorist leader is no more,” Biden said in remarks from the White House.
U.S. intelligence determined with “high confidence” that the man killed was Zawahiri, a senior administration official told reporters. No other casualties occurred.
“Zawahiri continued to pose an active threat to U.S. persons, interests and national security,” the official said on a conference call. “His death deals a significant blow to al Qaeda and will degrade the group’s ability to operate.”
There were rumors of Zawahiri’s death several times in recent years, and he was long reported to have been in poor health.
His death raises questions about whether Zawahiri received sanctuary from the Taliban following their takeover of Kabul in August 2021. The official said senior Taliban officials were aware of his presence in the city.
The drone attack is the first known U.S. strike inside Afghanistan since U.S. troops and diplomats left the country in August 2021. The move may bolster the credibility of Washington’s assurances that the United States can still address threats from Afghanistan without a military presence in the country. – TVS
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