As one of the most wanted terrorists in the world and the presumed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, U.S. President Joe Biden announced on Monday (Aug. 1) that the U.S had killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Biden claimed in a televised speech that the attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, had taken place on Saturday. He stated, "I gave the final approval to go get him," and added that there had been no harm done to any civilians.
"Justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more," Biden said. He continued by saying that he believed this will contribute to giving the families of those slain in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks "closure." "It is my hope that this decisive action will bring one more measure of closure," he said.
There were no U.S. troops in Afghanistan, according to a senior administration official, and Zawahiri was killed by a drone hit while standing on the balcony of a home in Kabul.
Zawahiri's presence in the Afghan capital Kabul, according to the official, was a "clear violation" of a deal the Taliban and the U.S. made in Doha in 2020 that allowed for the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The senior administration official stated, "We expect them to adhere by the provisions of the Doha accord, and the appearance of Zawahiri in downtown Kabul was a clear violation of that.
"Going forward with the Taliban we'll continue to hold them accountable."
Since American forces left Afghanistan on August 31, 2021, it is known that this was the first over-the-horizon attack by the U.S. on an Al-Qaeda target there.
Since the 9/11 attacks that claimed over 3,000 lives in the United States, Zawahiri, an Egyptian surgeon who grew up in a privileged Cairo family before converting to violent radicalism, had been on the run for 20 years. After Osama bin Laden was murdered by U.S. special forces in Pakistan in 2011, he claimed control of Al-Qaeda, and a $25 million US bounty was placed on his head. Zawahiri's death has been claimed to have occurred multiple times in recent years, and he has long been thought to be ill.
He was charged in the U.S. for his involvement in the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on Aug. 7, 1998, which resulted in 224 fatalities and over 5,000 injuries.
Before the attack, nobody knew where Zawahiri was; he was alternatively said to be in Afghanistan or the tribal region of Pakistan.