- US President Biden announced the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.
- says the attack was carried out on Saturday in Kabul, Afghanistan.
- It is said that there was no civilian casualties and justice has been served.
WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden announced on Monday that the United States had killed al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, one of the world’s most wanted terrorists and the suspected mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
In a televised address, Biden said the attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, was carried out on Saturday. “I gave the final approval to take it,” he said, adding that there were no civilian casualties.
“Justice has been served and this terrorist leader is no longer,” Biden said.
A senior administration official said Zawahiri was killed in a drone strike on the balcony of a home in Kabul, and that there were no American boots on the ground in Afghanistan.
The official said Zawahiri’s presence in the Afghan capital, Kabul, was a “clear violation” of an agreement the Taliban signed with the United States in Doha in 2020 that paved the way for a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
It was the first over-the-horizon attack by the United States against an al-Qaeda target in Afghanistan since the withdrawal of US forces from the country on August 31, 2021.
Zawahiri, an Egyptian surgeon who grew up in a comfortable family in Cairo before turning to violent radicalism, had been on the run for 20 years since the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in the United States.
He took over al-Qaeda after Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces in Pakistan in 2011, and had a US$25 million bounty on his head.
Over the weekend, the Afghan Interior Ministry denied reports circulating on social media of a drone attack in Kabul, telling AFP that a rocket had hit an “empty house” in the capital, causing no casualties.
However, on Tuesday morning in Kabul, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that an “airstrike” had been carried out on a residence in the Sherpur area of the city.
His tweet said, “The nature of the incident was not previously disclosed. The security and intelligence agencies of the Islamic Emirate investigated the incident and found in their preliminary investigation that the attack was carried out by US drones.”
In recent months, the Taliban have largely barred the media from covering security incidents and often deny or downplay any casualties.
The news comes a month before the first anniversary of the final withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, leaving the country under the control of the Taliban insurgency that has fought Western forces for the past two decades.
The US backed down after the Taliban signed an accord in Doha in 2020 in which they pledged not to allow Afghanistan to be used as a launchpad for international jihad again, but experts believe The group never severed its ties with al-Qaeda.
– Doctor turned jihadist.
Zawahiri, 71, lacked the towering charisma that helped bin Laden rally jihadists around the world, but willingly added his analytical skills to al-Qaeda’s cause.
He was believed to be the main strategist — the real mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, as well as bin Laden’s personal doctor.
Zawahiri’s father was a renowned physician and his grandfather was the presiding imam at the Al-Azhar Institute in Cairo.
He became involved with Egypt’s radical community at an early age and published several books on radicalism.
He left Egypt in the mid-1980s and moved to the northwestern city of Peshawar in Pakistan, where resistance against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was based.
It was then, when thousands of fighters entered Afghanistan in the 1980s, that al-Zawahiri and bin Laden met.
In the early 1990s, Zawahiri was believed to have lived in Europe before joining bin Laden in Sudan or Afghanistan.
In 1998 he was one of the signatories of bin Laden’s “fatwa” calling for attacks against Americans and began appearing regularly toward the al-Qaeda leader.