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U.S. Drone Strike In Afghanistan Kills Al-Qaeda Leader

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahri pictured an unknown location in an undated handout. (file photo)

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahri pictured an unknown location in an undated handout. (file photo)

U.S. President Joe Biden says Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, one of the world’s most-wanted terrorists, was killed over the weekend in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul.
"Now justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more," Biden said in a televised address on August 1. The White House announced earlier that the United States conducted a successful counterterrorism operation against a "significant” Al-Qaeda target in Afghanistan over the weekend and said Biden would deliver remarks about the counteroperation later on August 1. Biden said U.S. intelligence officials tracked al-Zawahri to a home in downtown Kabul where he was hiding out with his family. The president approved the operation last week and it was carried out on July 31. Zawahri oversaw the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, alongside Osama bin Laden, founder of Al-Qaeda. Bin Laden and al-Zawahri escaped U.S. forces in Afghanistan in late 2001, and Zawahri’s whereabouts had long been a mystery. Zawahri took over as leader of Al-Qaeda after Bin Laden was killed in a raid by U.S. forces in Pakistan in 2011. U.S. officials, speaking to reporters on a conference call ahead of Biden's comments, said the United States carried out the drone strike at 6:18 a.m. local time on July 31. U.S. intelligence determined with "high confidence" that the man killed was Zawahri, a senior administration official said. There were no other casualties. "Zawahri continued to pose an active threat to U.S. persons, interests, and national security," the official said. "His death deals a significant blow to Al-Qaeda and will degrade the group's ability to operate." There had been 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 the Taliban provided Zawahri sanctuary following their takeover of Kabul in August 2021. The U.S. official said senior Taliban officials were aware of his presence in the city. The Taliban-led government's chief spokesman confirmed that a drone strike by the U.S. took place on a residence in Kabul on July 31. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement that the ruling Islamist extremists strongly condemned it as a violation of “international principles" and the 2020 agreement on a U.S. troop withdrawal. The drone attack is the first known U.S. strike inside Afghanistan since U.S. troops and diplomats left the country in August 2021.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP

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