President Joe Biden announced on Monday that the U.S. conducted an airstrike in Afghanistan on July 30 that reportedly killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, one of the alleged masterminds behind the September 11 terrorist attacks and the one who took over as leader of al-Qaeda after the death of Osama bin Laden.
Biden said, “On Saturday, at my direction, the United States successfully concluded an airstrike in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed the emir of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri. You know, Zawahiri was bin Laden’s [follower]. He was with him all the whole time. He was his number two man, his deputy at the time of the terrorist attack of 9/11. He was deeply involved in the planning of 9/11, one of the most responsible for the attacks that murdered 2,977 people on American soil.”
Al-Zawahiri, according to Biden, was allegedly responsible for attacks on Americans, including the bombing that killed 17 American sailors and injured dozens more on the USS Cole in 2000.
“He played a key role, a key role, in the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 and wounding over 4,500 others,” added Biden.
Biden claimed al-Zawahiri made videos in recent weeks calling on his followers to attack the U.S. and its allies.
“Now justice has been delivered, and this terrorist leader is no more. People around the world no longer need to fear the vicious and determined killer,” he said.
Biden praised the U.S. intelligence community in his remarks, noting that the operation was a “success” “thanks to their extraordinary persistence and skill.”
Al-Zawahiri’s death eliminated a figure who shaped al-Qaeda more than anyone else since bin Laden. He was bin Laden’s deputy since 1998, then his successor, according to The Guardian. Both a CIA ground team and aerial survey following the drone strike confirmed al-Zawahiri’s death.
According to a senior intelligence official, the house al-Zawahiri was in when he was killed was allegedly owned by an upper aide to senior Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani. Additionally, a counter-terrorism analyst told CNN that al-Zawahiri could not have been in that location without the express invitation by Taliban leaders.