Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri killed in US strike in Afghanistan

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri killed in US strike in Afghanistan

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In this article, you will get all the information regarding Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri killed in US strike in Afghanistan

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a US strike in Afghanistan at the weekend, President Joe Biden said, the biggest blow to the militant group since its founder Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011.

Zawahiri, an Egyptian surgeon who had a $US25 million ($A36 million) bounty on his head, helped co-ordinate the September 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3000 people.

US 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 6.18am local time.

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“Now justice has been delivered, and this terrorist leader is no more,” Biden, who is recovering from COVID-19, said in remarks from the White House on Monday.

“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.”

US intelligence determined with ‘high confidence’ that the man killed was Ayman al-Zawahiri. Credit: AP

US 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 US 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 had been rumours 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 US strike inside Afghanistan since US 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.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that a strike took place and strongly condemned it, calling it a violation of “international principles”.

President Joe Biden speaks from the Blue Room Balcony of the White House. Credit: Jim Watson/AP

Zawahiri succeeded bin Laden as al-Qaeda leader after years as its main organiser and strategist, but his lack of charisma and competition from rival militant group Islamic State hobbled his ability to inspire spectacular attacks on the West.

Zawahiri had been rumoured variously to be in Pakistan’s tribal area or inside Afghanistan.

A video released in April, in which he praised an Indian Muslim woman for defying a ban on wearing an Islamic head scarf, dispelled rumours that he had died.

The senior US official said finding Zawahiri was the result of persistent counter-terrorism work. The United States identified this year that Zawahiri’s wife, daughter and her children had relocated to a safe house in Kabul, then identified that Zawahiri was there as well, the official said.

“Once Zawahiri arrived at the location, we are not aware of him ever leaving the safe house,” the official said.

He was identified multiple times on the balcony, where he was ultimately struck. He continued to produce videos from the house and some might be released after his death, the official said.

In the past few weeks, Biden convened officials to scrutinise the intelligence. He was updated throughout May and June and was briefed on July 1 on a proposed operation by intelligence leaders.

A loud explosion echoed through Kabul early on Sunday morning. Credit: AP

On July 25 he received an updated report and authorised the strike once an opportunity was available.

A loud explosion echoed through Kabul early on Sunday morning.

“A house was hit by a rocket in Sherpoor. There were no casualties as the house was empty,” interior ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor had said earlier.

With other senior al-Qaeda members, Zawahiri is believed to have plotted the October 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole naval vessel in Yemen that killed 17 US sailors and injured more than 30 others, the Rewards for Justice website said.

He was indicted in the United States for his role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people and wounded more than 5000.

Both bin Laden and Zawahiri eluded capture when US-led forces toppled Afghanistan’s Taliban government in late 2001 following the September 11 attacks on the United States.

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Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri killed in US strike in Afghanistan

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