Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawari has been killed in a CIA drone strike in Afghanistan.
Current and former officials began hearing Sunday afternoon that al-Zawari had been killed in a drone strike, but the White House delayed releasing the information until his death could be confirmed, according to a person who spoke on condition of anonymity. to talk about The reason.
White House officials declined to confirm al-Zawari’s death, but did note in a statement that the United States had conducted a “successful” counterterrorism operation against a key al-Qaeda target, adding added that “there were no civilian casualties”.
President Joe Biden is expected to discuss more details of the operation in an address to the nation.
An American ground team was present in Afghanistan to support the attack and has since withdrawn, a senior intelligence official said.
The loss of al-Zawari eliminates the figure who has shaped al-Qaeda more than any other, first as Osama bin Laden’s deputy since 1998, then as his successor.
Together, he and bin Laden turned the guns of the jihadist movement on the United States and carried out the deadliest attack on American soil ever – the suicide kidnappings of September 11, 2001.
The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon made bin Laden America’s number one enemy. But without his deputy, he probably would never have been able to carry them out.
Bin Laden provided al-Qaeda with charisma and money, but al-Zawari brought with him the tactics and organizational skills needed to forge militants in a network of cells in countries around the world.
Their bond was forged in the late 1980s when al-Zawari was reportedly treating Saudi millionaire bin Laden in the caves of Afghanistan while Soviet bombardments rattled the mountains around them.
President Biden planned to speak from the White House Blue Room balcony as he remains isolated at the residence while he continues to test positive for Covid-19.
On August 31 last year, after the last US troops left Afghanistan, Mr. Biden said the US would not relax in its fight against terrorism in that country or anywhere else.
“We will continue the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and other countries,” he said. “We just don’t have to fight a ground war for this.”
Looking ahead to the strike that would take place 11 months later, Mr. Biden said at the time: “We have so-called over-the-horizon capabilities, which means we can attack terrorists and targets without American boots on the ground – or very few, if needed .”
Rumors of al-Zawari’s death have been circulating for several years. But in April, a video surfaced of the al-Qaeda leader praising an Indian Muslim woman who flouted a ban on wearing a hijab, or headscarf. This footage was the first evidence in months that he was alive.
A statement from the Afghan Taliban government confirmed the airstrike but made no mention of al-Zawari or other casualties.
It said it “strongly condemns this attack, calling it a clear violation of international principles and the Doha Accords,” the US 2020 pact with the Taliban that led to the withdrawal of American forces.
“Such actions are a repetition of the failed experiences of the past 20 years and run counter to the interests of the United States, Afghanistan and the region,” the statement said.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/al-qaida-leader-ayman-al-zawahri-killed-by-us-airstrike-in-afghanistan-41883413.html Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawari killed in US airstrike in Afghanistan