On Monday, President Joe Biden delivered a speech in the White House announcing that the United States killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, an al-Qaeda leader, in a drone strike.
“I authorized a precision strike that would remove him from the battlefield, once and for all,” said Biden.
Eleven years after Osama bin Laden’s death, Ayman al-Zawahiri was an international symbol of al-Qaeda.
He was considered Bin Laden’s right-hand man and experts believed he was the “operational mastermind” behind the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
Since 9/11, Zawahiri has become al-Qaeda’s most prominent spokesperson, releasing four times as many videos and tapes radicalizing and recruiting Muslims worldwide.
Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed on Sunday in a counter-terrorism operation in the Afghan capital Kabul.
The operation was conducted by the CIA.
According to Biden, Zawahiri was hiding in central Kabul to reunite with his family.
The Al-Qaeda leader was later killed in what a senior government official called a “bespoke air strike” that used two Hellfire missiles.
The drone attack happened Saturday at 9:48 PM ET. The deal was approved by President Biden after weeks of meetings with his cabinet and senior adviser.
There were no US personnel on the ground in Kabul during the drone attack.
Officials said Zawahiri was on the balcony of a hideout when the rockets struck.
Before the strike
According to the official, senior Taliban Haqqani figures were aware of the presence of the leader of Al-Qaeda in the region, in clear violation of the Doha agreements.
They also took steps to conceal his presence after Saturday’s strike, restricted access to the shelter and relocated Zawahiri’s family, including his daughter and children.
People were not intentionally attacked during the strike, but they were not injured.
The United States did not alert Taliban officials of the strike.
After the strike
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid tweeted about the strike.
“An air strike was carried out on a residential house in Sherpur area of Kabul city on July 31,” he wrote.
“The nature of the incident was not apparent at first.”
He revealed that the Islamic Emirate’s security and intelligence services were investigating the incident and “initial findings revealed that the attack was carried out by a US drone.”
Mujahid’s tweets were published before CNN began reporting on Zawahiri’s death.
He also said that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan “strongly condemns this attack on any pretext and calls it a clear violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement.”
President Joe Biden made the announcement Monday, saying Zawahiri and bin Laden planned the 9/11 attacks together.
“Since the United States delivered justice to bin Laden 11 years ago, Zawahiri has been a leader of al Qaeda,” said Biden.
“From hiding, he coordinated al Qaeda’s branches and all around the world, including setting priorities for providing operational guidance and calling for and inspired attacks against US targets.”
“Now justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more.”
Biden said the killing will bring justice to the families of the nearly 3,000 victims of the 2001 attacks.
“No matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out,” said the US President.
“We shall never waver from defending our nation and its people.”