News ID: 323303
Published: 0404 GMT August 02, 2022

U.S. says kills Al-Qaeda leader Zawahiri killed in Kabul drone strike

U.S. says kills Al-Qaeda leader Zawahiri killed in Kabul drone strike

The United States killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a "precision" strike in the heart of the Afghanistan capital Kabul, President Joe Biden said, the biggest blow to the terrorist group since its founder Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011.

Zawahiri, an Egyptian surgeon who had a $25 million bounty on his head, helped to coordinate the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States that killed nearly 3,000 people, Reuters reported.

U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Zawahiri was killed when he came out on the balcony of his safe house in Kabul at 6:18 a.m. (0148 GMT) on Sunday morning and was hit by Hellfire missiles from a U.S. drone.

"Now justice has been delivered, and this terrorist leader is no more," Biden said in televised remarks from the White House on Monday. "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."

Biden said he authorised the precision strike in downtown Kabul after months of planning and that no civilians were killed.

Three spokespeople in the Taliban administration in Kabul declined comment on Zawahiri's death.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid had previously confirmed that a strike took place in Kabul on Sunday and strongly condemned it, calling it a violation of "international principles."

A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry said a house was hit by a rocket in Sherpoor, a leafy, upscale residential neighbourhood in the centre of the city.

"There were no casualties as the house was empty," Abdul Nafi Takor, the spokesperson, said.

A senior Taliban official told Reuters that Zawahiri was previously in Helmand Province and had moved to Kabul after the Taliban took over the country in August last year.

U.S. intelligence determined with "high confidence" through multiple intelligence streams that the man killed was Zawahiri, one senior administration official told reporters.

Zawahiri succeeded bin Laden as Al-Qaeda leader after years as its main organiser and strategist, but his lack of charisma, and competition from rival militants, hobbled his ability to inspire devastating attacks on the West.

There were rumours of Zawahiri's death several times in recent years, and he was long reported to have been in poor health.

The drone attack is the first known U.S. strike inside Afghanistan since U.S. troops and diplomats left the country in August 2021.



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