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Ayman al-Zawahiri killed, Biden says; al Qaeda leader was Osama bin Laden’s No. 2

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed over the weekend in a drone strike in a U.S. counterterrorism operation, President Joe Biden introduced Monday evening. 

“He carved a trail of murder and violence against American citizens, American service members, American diplomats, and American interests,” President Biden stated in his temporary remarks from the White House balcony. “Now, justice has been delivered. And this terrorist leader is no more.”

The president stated al-Zawahiri was killed in Kabul. 

“After relentlessly seeking Zawahiri for years under Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump, our intelligence community located Zawahiri earlier this year,” Mr. Biden stated. “He had moved to downtown Kabul to reunite with members of his immediate family.”

The U.S. authorities had a number of, unbiased sources confirming al-Zawahiri’s whereabouts at a safehouse, a senior administration official advised reporters on a name Monday night. The strike was a results of cautious, affected person and chronic work by counterterrorism officers over the course of months and years.

The president stated that after he thought-about  “clear and convincing evidence” of al-Zawahiri’s location, he “authorized a precision strike that would remove him from the battlefield once and for all.” He gave his last approval to “go get him” one week in the past.

Al-Zawahiri was finally taken out by a drone at 9:48 p.m. ET Saturday, whereas he was on the balcony of the safehouse, and his relations had been in several rooms of the home.

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House in Kabul the place U.S. drone assault killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri on July 30, 2022.

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“None of his family members were hurt and there were no civilian casualties,” the president stated. The U.S. authorities has a excessive stage of confidence that nobody else was killed within the strike, in line with the senior administration official.

The senior administration official stated the president acquired common updates because the U.S. authorities zeroed in on al-Zawahiri. Once the safehouse was positioned, the president wished to grasp extra concerning the structure of the safehouse’s doorways and home windows to keep away from different casualties. In a July 25 meeting, the president licensed a exact, tailor-made air strike that may decrease civilian deaths as a lot as potential, the senior administration official stated. 

With al-Zawahiri’s dying, all the prime plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist assaults are actually both useless or captured.

The FBI up to date its “Most Wanted Terrorist” poster Monday with al-Zawahiri’s standing: “Deceased.”

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FBI “Most Wanted Terrorist” poster for Ayman al-Zawahiri up to date to notice he’s deceased, Aug. 1, 2022.

FBI


The president spoke of his visits to Shanksville, Penn., and Ground Zero in New York final year on the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 assaults, and he stated that seeing the names of those that died within the assault etched in bronze was a reminder of the vow Americans made to “never forget.” 

Mr. Biden stated his hope was that the motion taken in opposition to al-Zawahiri “will bring one more measure of closure” to those that lost family members on 9/11.

The strike got here practically one year after U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan, which was not lost on the president. The Biden administration has lengthy made the argument that it could possibly proceed to handle terrorist threats to the American individuals with out boots on the bottom in Afghanistan, from “over the horizon.” 

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President Joe Biden addresses the nation on the killing of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a U.S. drone strike, on August 1, 2022.

POOL / REUTERS


“When I ended our military mission in Afghanistan almost a year ago, I made a decision that after 20 years of war, the United States no longer needed thousands of boots on the ground in Afghanistan to protect America from terrorists who seek to do us harm,” Mr. Biden stated. “I made a promise to the American people that we’d continue to conduct effective counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and beyond. We’ve done just that.” 

Two intelligence sources accustomed to the matter stated the strike was carried out by the CIA. 

The president, who examined constructive with a rebound case of COVID-19, delivered his remarks outdoor from a balcony on the White House. 

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Monday confirmed an airstrike performed by a drone in Kabul. He stated the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan views that as a transparent violation of worldwide rules.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated Monday that by sheltering al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan, “the Taliban grossly violated the Doha Agreement and repeated assurances to the world that they would not allow Afghan territory to be used by terrorists to threaten the security of other countries.”

Former Acting CIA Director and CBS News contributor Michael Morell stated after the president’s remarks that “it’s really hard for me to believe [al-Zawahiri] was in Kabul without the knowledge of at least some of the Taliban leadership.”

Noting that al-Zawahiri was “living there fairly openly, not trying to hide,” Morell stated the strike additionally makes clear to some other al Qaeda members in Afghanistan that they have to nonetheless fear about their safety, even if the U.S. not has troops there. 

Al-Zawahiri has lengthy been a wished man. After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist assaults, then-President George W. Bush launched an inventory of the FBI’s 22 most wished terrorists, with al-Zawahiri close to the highest of the checklist together with Osama bin Laden. 

For years, al-Zawahiri was generally known as al Qaeda’s No. 2, however many analysts consider he was actually the brains behind bin Laden’s operation.     

Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri
Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, left, sits along with his adviser Ayman al-Zawahiri, throughout an interview with a Pakistani journalist at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan for an article printed Nov. 10, 2001.

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Bin Laden was killed by U.S. particular forces in 2011, however al-Zawahiri eluded makes an attempt on his life and a global manhunt till his dying. 

Zawahiri continued to launch video statements, together with one on Sept. 11, 2021, though it was unclear if that recording was new or previous. It was rumored for years that he had died, and the U.S. provided $25 million for data that might result in his apprehension.

Andrew Ansbro, president of the FDNY-Firefighters Association, in a press release Monday thanked Mr. Biden for “helping to bring another level of closure to all impacted by these attacks.”

 — CBS News’ Arden Farhi, Nancy Cordes, Andres Triay, Ahmad Muktar, Pat Milton and Olivia Gazis contributed to this report.

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