U.S. strike kills Al Qaeda’s leader
An American drone strike killed Ayman al-Zawahri — a key plotter of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks who took over as the leader of Al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden’s death — at a safe house in Afghanistan.
The strike in downtown Kabul over the weekend capped a 21-year manhunt. After receiving authorization from President Biden a week ago, the C.I.A. fired two Hellfire missiles and killed al-Zawahri on a balcony of the house without killing anyone else, including members of his family or nearby civilians, U.S. officials said.
The strike raised immediate questions about the terrorist leader’s presence in Afghanistan a year after Biden withdrew all U.S. forces, clearing the way for the Taliban to retake control of the country. Al-Zawahri moved back to Afghanistan earlier this year, evidently believing he would be safe there, officials said.
The Taliban condemned the operation, and the revelation that they were sheltering al-Zawahri is likely to harden support for sanctions.
Quotable: “Now justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more,” President Biden said in a televised address on Monday night. “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.”
Legacy: Al-Zawahri, 71, was born in Egypt and trained as a surgeon before becoming a jihadist. He was widely depicted as the organization’s intellectual spine, but his death is likely to have little impact on the group’s day-to-day operations.
Context: The killing speaks volumes about what America accomplished in its 20 years of involvement in Afghanistan. It also says a lot about where it failed.
Source: The New York Times