WASHINGTON President Joe Biden declared Monday night that top Al Qaeda figure Ayman al-Zawahiri, a key figure in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, had been killed in an American counterterrorism operation over the weekend in Afghanistan.
The justice has been done. In a rare evening address from the White House, Biden said that this terrorist commander was no longer alive. If you pose a threat to our citizens, the United States will find you and eliminate you no matter how long it takes or where you hide.
According to two persons briefed on the situation and quoted by NBC News, al-Zawahiri was killed by a CIA drone strike.
Osama bin Laden’s deputy during the 9/11 attacks, Al-Zawahiri assumed control of Al Qaeda in 2011 after bin Laden was assassinated by American forces in Pakistan. Al-Zawahiri continued to urge attacks against the U.S. and its allies in that capacity.
Al-Zawahiri evaded American soldiers in 2001, and it was long thought that he had vanished.
But according to a senior administration source who briefed reporters on the operation on Monday, American intelligence managed to track down al-Zawahiri earlier this year.
U.S. intelligence officers discovered that al-Zawahiri had relocated from Pakistan to a safe home in the heart of Kabul that was backed by the Taliban. According to officials, Al-Zawahiris’ wife and kids had moved there first. They were being watched by U.S. intelligence personnel, who discovered al-Zawahiri had joined his family.
Al-Zawahiri never left the safe house after getting there, according to officials.
According to the senior administration official, authorities then spent months figuring out his pattern of behavior and monitoring his daily routine to prevent civilian casualties.
The senior administration official noted that intelligence personnel briefed Biden on the risk to civilians using a mockup of al-Zawahiris’ safe house. By avoiding endangering the structure’s integrity during the intended strike, they attempted to reduce the risk to civilians.
An administration official said that there was no reason to anticipate any civilian casualties when asked if Biden would have accepted even a handful. According to the official, the strike was so exact that Zawahiri was murdered on a balcony without any other family members being harmed inside the home.
During a Situation Room meeting on July 1, which also included CIA Director William Burns, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, and Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Christine Abizaid, Biden was shown the safe house model.
The president was interested in the safe house’s building materials as well as any potential strike-related circumstances, like weather and lighting.
He questioned officials about their confidence that al-Zawahiri was in fact present at the safe location.
Meanwhile, government attorneys established a legal foundation for the operation. Al-Zawahiri was considered a legitimate target because of his ongoing leadership position within Al Qaeda.
Biden gathered the pertinent Cabinet members and aides once more on July 25. This larger gathering of national security officials briefed him on a prospective operation in the Situation Room.
According to officials, the president wanted to learn more about the safe house’s layout and how an attack against al-Zawahiri inside of Afghanistan may affect the U.S.’s relationship with the Taliban. Biden pressed them on how an attack within the nation may affect his administration’s efforts to rehouse Afghans who had aided the United States during the Afghanistan War in particular.
Biden gave the airstrike his approval at the conclusion of the meeting.
The president’s national security staff as a whole had advised him to authorize the strike.
When intelligence officers decided the moment was right, they were able to kill al Zawahiri thanks to his approval.
Al-Zawahiri was assassinated by a drone at 6:18 a.m. local time on July 30, which is just before 10 p.m. on July 29 in Washington.
The official added that no civilians or al-Zawahiri family members were killed in the attack and that two Hellfire missiles were fired at al-Zawahiri while he was on the safe house’s balcony. After the incident, the family was taken away by the Haqqani Taliban, the official claimed.
In his Monday night speech, Biden referred to al-Zawahiri as the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and claimed that the terrorist figure also had a significant hand in the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
According to Biden, he left a bloody path of murder and violence against American people, service members, diplomats, and national interests.
Al-Zawahiri was reportedly killed in the raid, according to the Associated Press (first reported).
Al-Zawahiris’ passing occurs about a year after the United States finished its withdrawal from Afghanistan, bringing an end to the nearly 20-year conflict there that began in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
For his handling of the withdrawal, which resulted in the deaths of 13 American service members and hundreds of civilians as the Taliban swiftly toppled the Western-backed government and seized power in the nation, Biden received harsh criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle as well as from foreign allies.
Biden “deserves credit for allowing this strike,” according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, but it also demonstrates that “Afghanistan is again becoming a significant hotbed of terrorist activity following the President’s decision to withdraw U.S. soldiers.”
The Biden administration official claimed on Monday that al-presence Zawahiri’s in the nation violated the Doha Agreement that the United States and the Taliban signed in 2020 and that the Taliban were not informed before to the attack against him.