CIA drone strike kills Bin Laden's right hand man – Biden
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed over the weekend in a US drone strike in Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden announced on Monday evening, after multiple media outlets reported it citing anonymous sources within the government. Biden made a brief televised appearance while quarantining with Covid-19.
“Over the weekend, the United States conducted a counterterrorism operation against a significant Al Qaeda target in Afghanistan. The operation was successful and there were no civilian casualties,” a senior administration official told reporters in a background briefing. While Zawahiri’s name was not initially mentioned, AP reported it shortly thereafter, followed by Reuters and the Washington Post.
Addressing the nation at 7:30 pm, Biden said that the strike killed Zawahiri, calling him the right hand man of deceased former Al Qaeda boos Osama Bin Laden and a “vicious and determined killer.”
After “rigorous” planning to avoid civilian casualties, Biden said, he gave the final approval for the strike a week ago. “Now, justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more.”
“No matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you’re a threat to our people, the US will find you and take you out,” Biden added.
According to US officials, the CIA carried out a drone strike in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday. The Taliban government confirmed that the strike took place, with spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid condemning it as a violation of “international principles,” according to Reuters.
Afghan authorities had said that a missile had struck a home in the Sherpor district of Kabul, but that no one was inside.
“A rocket hit a house in the Sherpor area of Kabul this morning at around 6,” Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takoor told Tolo News. “The house was empty, thus the rocket did not result in any casualties.”
The Egyptian-born Zawahiri, 71, was considered to be Osama Bin Laden’s deputy and listed among the top 22 Most Wanted Terrorists by the FBI since October 2001, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He became the leader of Al-Qaeda following the US announcement that Bin Laden was killed in May 2011. The State Department had offered a bounty of up to $25 million for information on Zawahiri’s whereabouts.