U.S. Operation Killed al Qaeda Leader Ayman al-Zawahri, Biden Says

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden expressed hope Monday that the killing of al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri brings “one more measure of closure” to households of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, assaults on america.

Biden made the feedback as he confirmed {that a} U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan this weekend killed al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri.

“He will never again, never again, allow Afghanistan to become a terrorist safe haven because he is gone and we’re going to make sure that nothing else happens,” Biden stated in an handle from the White Home formally saying the operation.

“This terrorist leader is no more,” Biden stated.

He stated U.S. intelligence officers tracked al-Zawahri to a house in downtown Kabul the place he was hiding out along with his household. The president permitted the operation final week and it was carried out on Sunday.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows beneath.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan this weekend killed Ayman al-Zawahri, who took over as al-Qaida chief after Osama bin Laden’s dying in a U.S. raid. President Joe Biden was set to announce the killing Monday, delivering a big counterterrorism win simply 11 months after American troops left the nation after a two-decade warfare.

The strike, carried out by the Central Intelligence Company, was confirmed by 5 folks aware of the matter who spoke on the situation of anonymity earlier than Biden was set to transient the American folks on the main points of the operation in a 7:30 p.m. EDT handle to the nation.

Al-Zawahri’s loss eliminates the determine who greater than anybody formed al-Qaida, first as Osama bin Laden’s deputy since 1998, then as his successor. Collectively, he and bin Laden turned the jihadi motion’s weapons to focus on america, finishing up the deadliest assault ever on American soil — the Sept. 11, 2001, suicide hijackings.

Present and former officers started listening to Sunday afternoon that al-Zawahri had been killed in a drone strike, however the administration delayed releasing the data till his dying could possibly be confirmed, in line with one particular person.

White Home officers declined to substantiate al-Zawahri was killed however famous in an announcement that america performed a “successful” counterterrorism operation in opposition to a big al-Qaida goal, including that “there were no civilian casualties.”

The home Al-Zawahri was in when he was killed was owned by a high aide to senior Taliban chief Sirajuddin Haqqani, in line with a senior intelligence official. The official additionally added {that a} CIA floor group and aerial reconnaissance performed after the drone strike confirmed al-Zawahri’s dying. Planning for the operation started six months in the past, however intensified within the final two months, the official stated.

Over the 20-year warfare in Afghanistan, the U.S. focused and splintered al-Qaida, sending leaders into hiding. However America’s exit from Afghanistan final September gave the extremist group the chance to rebuild. U.S. army officers, together with Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Workers, have stated that al-Qaida was attempting to reconstitute in Afghanistan, the place it confronted restricted threats from the now-ruling Taliban. Navy leaders have warned that the group nonetheless aspired to assault the U.S.

The 2001 assaults on the World Commerce Middle and Pentagon made bin Laden America’s Enemy No. 1. However he probably may by no means have carried it out with out his deputy. Bin Laden supplied al-Qaida with charisma and cash, however al-Zawahri introduced techniques and organizational expertise wanted to forge militants right into a community of cells in nations around the globe.

Their bond was solid within the late Eighties, when al-Zawahri reportedly handled the Saudi millionaire bin Laden within the caves of Afghanistan as Soviet bombardment shook the mountains round them.

Zawahri, on the FBI’s Most Needed Terrorist checklist, had a $25 million bounty on his head for any data that could possibly be used to kill or seize him.

Biden deliberate to talk from the balcony off the White Home Blue Room as he stays in isolation within the residence whereas he continues to check constructive for COVID-19.

Al-Zawhiri and bin Laden plotted the 9/11 assaults that introduced many abnormal People their first data of al-Qaida.

Images from the time usually confirmed the glasses-wearing, mild-looking Egyptian physician sitting by the aspect of bin Laden. Al-Zawahiri had merged his group of Egyptian militants with bin Laden’s al-Qaida within the Nineteen Nineties.

“The strong contingent of Egyptians applied organizational know-how, financial expertise, and military experience to wage a violent jihad against leaders whom the fighters considered to be un-Islamic and their patrons, especially the United States,” Steven A. Prepare dinner wrote for the Council on Overseas Relations final 12 months.

When the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan demolished al-Qaida’s secure haven and scattered, killed and captured its members, al-Zawahri ensured al-Qaida’s survival. He rebuilt its management within the Afghan-Pakistan border area and put in allies as lieutenants in key positions.

He additionally reshaped the group from a centralized planner of terror assaults into the pinnacle of a franchise chain. He led the assembling of a community of autonomous branches across the area, together with in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, North Africa, Somalia, Yemen and Asia. Over the following decade, al-Qaida impressed or had a direct hand in assaults in all these areas in addition to Europe, Pakistan and Turkey, together with the 2004 prepare bombings in Madrid and the 2005 transit bombings in London.

Extra not too long ago, the al-Qaida affiliate in Yemen proved itself able to plotting assaults in opposition to U.S. soil with an tried 2009 bombing of an American passenger jet and an tried package deal bomb the next 12 months.

However even earlier than bin Laden’s dying, al-Zawahri was struggling to keep up al-Qaida’s relevance in a altering Center East.

He tried with little success to coopt the wave of uprisings that unfold throughout the Arab world beginning in 2011, urging Islamic hard-liners to take over within the nations the place leaders had fallen. However whereas Islamists gained prominence in lots of locations, they’ve stark ideological variations with al-Qaida and reject its agenda and management.

However, al-Zawahri tried to pose because the Arab Spring’s chief. America “is facing an Islamic nation that is in revolt, having risen from its lethargy to a renaissance of jihad,” he stated in a video eulogy to bin Laden, sporting a white gown and turban with an assault rifle leaning on a wall behind him.

Al-Zawahri was additionally a extra divisive determine than his predecessor. Many militants described the soft-spoken bin Laden in adoring and virtually non secular phrases.

In distinction, al-Zawahri was notoriously prickly and pedantic. He picked ideological fights with critics throughout the jihadi camp, wagging his finger scoldingly in his movies. Even some key figures in al-Qaida’s central management have been postpone, calling him overly controlling, secretive and divisive.

Some militants whose affiliation with bin Laden predated al-Zawahri’s all the time noticed him as an boastful intruder.

“I have never taken orders from al-Zawahri,” Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, one of many community’s high figures in East Africa till his 2011 dying, sneered in a memoir posted on line in 2009. “We don’t take orders from anyone but our historical leadership.”

Talking on Aug. 31, 2021, after the final U.S. troops left Afghanistan, Biden stated the U.S. wouldn’t let up on its struggle in opposition to terrorism in that nation or elsewhere.

“We will maintain the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and other countries,” he stated. “We just don’t need to fight a ground war to do it.” Previewing the strike that might happen 11 months later, Biden stated on the time, “We have what’s called over-the-horizon capabilities, which means we can strike terrorists and targets without American boots on the ground — or very few, if needed.”

There have been rumors of al-Zawahri’s dying on and off for a number of years. However a video surfaced in April of the al-Qaida chief praising a Indian Muslim girl who had defied a ban on sporting a hijab, or headband. That footage was the primary proof in months that he was nonetheless alive.

An announcement from Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities confirmed the airstrike, however didn’t point out al-Zawahri or every other casualties.

It stated it “strongly condemns this attack and calls it a clear violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement,” the 2020 U.S. 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 are against the interests of the United States of America, Afghanistan, and the region,” the assertion stated.

Related Press writers Lolita C. Baldor, Ellen Knickmeyer, Zeke Miller, Aamer Madhani and Darlene Superville in Washington; Rahim Faiez in Islamabad; and Lee Keath in Cairo contributed reporting.