Secret services had located al-Zawahiri in Kabul. He was bin Laden’s deputy at the time of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
At least important members of the government and their predecessors have known since the weekend: the leader of the terrorist organization Al Qaeda had been killed in Afghanistan by a CIA drone with the help of an American unit. But the White House probably wanted to be sure first before it went public.
The US had successfully carried out an airstrike in Kabul that killed al Qaeda’s emir, Aiman al-Zawahiri, Joe Biden confirmed in the evening. Justice had been done, the President continued. The terrorist leader is gone, and people around the world no longer need to fear the vicious and determined killer. According to Biden, the blow was carried out precisely and there were no other deaths among the family.
$25 million reward
Al-Zawahiri was the man on Osama bin Laden’s side. Together, they were responsible for the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which killed thousands and are still fresh in US memory today.
After bin Laden was killed by US forces in Pakistan in 2011, al-Zawahiri became his successor. A reward of up to $25 million was offered for his capture.
Secret services found al-Qaeda chief
According to President Biden, intelligence agencies located the al Qaeda boss in Kabul earlier this year. In the past few weeks he has been making videos calling on his supporters to attack the United States and its allies.
For Leon Panetta, head of the CIA under President Obama, the whole thing comes as no surprise. After the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, it was clear that the Taliban would again create a safe haven for terrorists, as they had already done, Panetta said on CNN.
The US security authorities therefore continued to monitor the country: “They had legitimate fears that terrorism could spring from Afghanistan again. And that’s why al-Zawahiri had to pay the price.”
Biden speaks of success
For Biden, the whole thing is a success. He had promised that even after the withdrawal, the US would continue to effectively fight terrorists, in Afghanistan and elsewhere. That’s exactly what he did, Biden said in the evening.
And as on other occasions, he addressed potential assassins directly: “No matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the US will find you and eliminate you!”
And he addressed the families of the victims of 9/11. He hopes the death of the al-Qaeda chief will help them come to terms with their experiences.
The Taliban meanwhile confirmed that there had been an airstrike on a house in Kabul. The attack was carried out by American drones, they said on Twitter.