US killed Al-Qaeda chief in Kabul drone strike: Joe Biden

This mix of two file photos created on August 2, 2022 reveals al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden (L) in an undated file image obtained on August 8, 1998, and his successor Ayman al-Zawahiri (R) in a file picture from video launched on June 8, 2011 by Al-Qaeda’s media arm as-Sahab. —AFP

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden introduced Monday that the USA had killed Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, one of many world’s most needed terrorists and a mastermind of the September 11, 2001 assaults, in a drone strike in Kabul.

In a somber televised deal with, Biden mentioned he gave the ultimate go-ahead for the high-precision strike that efficiently focused Zawahiri within the Afghan capital over the weekend.

“Justice has been delivered and this terrorist chief is not any extra,” Biden mentioned, including that he hoped Zawahiri’s loss of life would carry “closure” to households of the three,000 folks killed in the USA on 9/11.

A senior administration official mentioned Zawahiri was on the balcony of a home in Kabul when he was focused with two Hellfire missiles, an hour after dawn on July 31, and that there had been no US boots on the bottom in Afghanistan.

“We’re not conscious of him ever leaving the protected home. We recognized Zawahiri on a number of events for sustained durations of time on the balcony of the place he was in the end struck,” the official mentioned.

In response to the official’s account, the president gave his inexperienced gentle for the strike on July 25 — as he was recovering in isolation from COVID-19. Biden mentioned there have been no civilian casualties within the operation.

The US official known as Zawahiri’s presence within the Afghan capital Kabul a “clear violation” of a deal the Taliban had signed with the US in Doha in 2020 that paved the way in which for the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

It was the primary identified over-the-horizon strike by the USA on an Al-Qaeda goal in Afghanistan since American forces withdrew from the nation on August 31, 2021.

Zawahiri, an Egyptian surgeon who grew up in a cushty Cairo family earlier than turning to violent radicalism, had been on the run for 20 years because the 9/11 assaults.

He took over Al-Qaeda after Osama bin Laden was killed by US particular forces in Pakistan in 2011, and had a $25 million US bounty on his head.

This handout image provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 1, 2022 shows the poster of Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri after he was killed in a US counterterrorism operation. -AFP
This handout picture offered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 1, 2022 reveals the poster of Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri after he was killed in a US counterterrorism operation. -AFP

Over the weekend the Afghan inside ministry denied stories circulating on social media of a drone strike in Kabul, telling AFP a rocket struck “an empty home” within the capital, inflicting no casualties.

Early Tuesday in Kabul, nonetheless, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that an “aerial assault” was carried out on a residence within the Sherpur space of town.

“The character of the incident was not revealed at first. The safety and intelligence businesses of the Islamic Emirate investigated the incident and located of their preliminary investigations that the assault was carried out by American drones,” his tweet mentioned.

The information comes a month earlier than the primary anniversary of the ultimate withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, leaving the nation within the management of the Taliban insurgency that fought Western forces over the previous 20 years.

Beneath the 2020 Doha deal, the Taliban promised to not permit Afghanistan for use once more as a launchpad for worldwide jihadism, however consultants consider the group by no means broke their ties with Al-Qaeda.

“What we all know is that the senior Haqqani Taliban have been conscious of his presence in Kabul,” the Biden official mentioned.

Physician turned extremist

Zawahiri, 71, lacked the potent charisma that helped bin Laden rally fighters world wide, however willingly channelled his analytical expertise into the Al-Qaeda trigger.

He was believed to be the primary strategist — the true mastermind who steered operations, together with the September 11 assaults, in addition to bin Laden’s private physician.

Al-Qaeda is believed to have been degraded within the years because the US invasion of Afghanistan, and the White Home official mentioned Zawahiri was “one of many final remaining figures who carried this sort of significance.”

The group, agreed Soufan Heart researcher Colin Clarke, is “at a crossroads.”

“Regardless of Zawahiri’s management, which minimized AQ’s losses whereas rebuilding, the group nonetheless faces severe challenges going ahead. For one, there’s the query of who will lead al Qaeda after Zawahiri’s gone,” he mentioned.

Zawahiri’s father was a famend doctor and his grandfather a prayer chief at Cairo’s Al-Azhar institute.

He turned concerned with Egypt’s radical non secular group at a younger age and printed a number of books which got here for a lot of to represent the motion.

He left Egypt within the mid-Nineteen Eighties, heading for Pakistan’s northwestern metropolis of Peshawar the place the resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was based mostly.

It was at the moment, when 1000’s of fighters flooded into Afghanistan through the Nineteen Eighties, that Zawahiri and bin Laden met, and in 1998 he turned one in every of 5 signatories to bin Laden’s “fatwa” calling for assaults in opposition to People.

Monitor SITE mentioned some militants have been questioning the veracity of the report he had been killed, whereas others believed Zawahiri had achieved his need of “martyrdom.”

As for Al-Qaeda’s future with out him, SITE mentioned fighters have been bullish, with one writing: “If Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri is useless, there are a thousand Aymans.”

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