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U.S. operation killed al Qaida leader al Zawahri, President Joe Biden confirms – National

President Joe Biden introduced Monday that al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul, an operation he hailed as delivering “justice” whereas expressing hope that it brings “yet another measure of closure” to households of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, assaults on the USA.

The president mentioned in a night deal with from the White Home that 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 authorised the operation final week and it was carried out Sunday.

Al-Zawahri and the higher recognized Osama bin Laden plotted the 9/11 assaults that introduced many abnormal Individuals their first information of al-Qaida. Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan on Could 2, 2011, in operation carried out by U.S. Navy Seals after an almost decade-long hunt.

“He won’t ever once more, by no means once more, permit Afghanistan to change into a terrorist secure haven as a result of he’s gone and we’re going to guarantee that nothing else occurs,” Biden mentioned.

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“This terrorist chief isn’t any extra,” he added.

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The operation is a major counterterrorism win for the Biden administration simply 11 months after American troops left the nation after a two-decade conflict.

The strike was carried out by the Central Intelligence Company, in keeping with 5 folks aware of the matter who spoke on the situation of anonymity. Neither Biden nor the White Home detailed the CIA’s involvement within the strike.

Biden, nonetheless, paid tribute to the U.S. intelligence group in his remarks, noting that “because of their extraordinary persistence and talent” the operation was a “success.”

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

The home Al-Zawahri was in when he was killed was owned by a high aide to senior Taliban chief Sirajuddin Haqqani, in keeping with a senior intelligence official. The official additionally added {that a} CIA floor workforce and aerial reconnaissance performed after the drone strike confirmed al-Zawahri’s demise.

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A senior administration official who briefed reporters on the operation on situation of anonymity mentioned “zero” U.S. personnel have been in Kabul.

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Over the 20-year conflict 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. navy officers, together with Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Employees, have mentioned al-Qaida was making an attempt 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 Heart and Pentagon made bin Laden America’s Enemy No. 1. However he seemingly might by no means have carried it out with out his deputy. Bin Laden offered al-Qaida with charisma and cash, however al-Zawahri introduced techniques and organizational abilities wanted to forge militants right into a community of cells in nations around the globe.

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U.S. intelligence officers have been conscious for years of a community serving to al-Zawahri dodge U.S. intelligence officers looking for him, however didn’t have a bead on his attainable location till current months.

Earlier this 12 months, U.S. officers realized that the fear chief’s spouse, daughter and her kids had relocated to a secure home in Kabul, in keeping with the senior administration official who briefed reporters.

Officers ultimately realized al-Zawahri was additionally on the Kabul secure home.

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In early April, White Home deputy nationwide safety adviser Jon Finer and Biden’s homeland safety adviser Elizabeth D. Sherwood-Randall have been briefed on this creating intelligence. Quickly the intelligence was carried as much as nationwide safety adviser Jake Sullivan.

Sullivan introduced the knowledge to Biden as U.S. intelligence officers constructed “a sample of life by a number of impartial sources of knowledge to tell the operation,” the official mentioned.

Senior Taliban figures have been conscious of al-Zawahri’s presence in Kabul, in keeping with the official, who added the Taliban authorities was given no forewarning of the operation.

Contained in the Biden administration, solely a small group of officers at key companies, in addition to Vice President Kamala Harris, have been introduced into the method.

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On July 1, Biden was briefed within the State of affairs Room concerning the deliberate operation, a briefing during which the president intently examined a mannequin of the house Zawahri was hiding out in. He gave his remaining approval for the operation on Thursday. Al-Zawahri was standing on the balcony of his hideout when the strike was carried out.

“We make it clear once more tonight: That regardless of how lengthy it takes, regardless of the place you cover, in case you are a risk to our folks, the USA will discover you and take you out,” Biden mentioned.

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Al-Zawahri was hardly a family identify like bin Laden, however he performed an unlimited position within the terror group’s operations.

The 2 terror leaders’ bond was cast within the late Nineteen Eighties, when al-Zawahri reportedly handled the Saudi millionaire bin Laden within the caves of Afghanistan as Soviet bombardment shook the mountains round them.

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Zawahri, on the FBI’s Most Wished Terrorist record, had a $25 million bounty on his head for any info that may very well be used to kill or seize him.

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

Pictures 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 Nineties.

“The sturdy contingent of Egyptians utilized organizational know-how, monetary experience, and navy expertise to wage a violent jihad towards leaders whom the fighters thought of to be un-Islamic and their patrons, particularly the USA,” Steven A. Prepare dinner wrote for the Council on Overseas Relations final 12 months.

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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 subsequent 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 practice bombings in Madrid and the 2005 transit bombings in London.

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Extra lately, the al-Qaida affiliate in Yemen proved itself able to plotting assaults towards 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 demise, 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 dealing with an Islamic nation that’s in revolt, having risen from its lethargy to a renaissance of jihad,” he mentioned in a video eulogy to bin Laden, sporting a white gown and turban with an assault rifle leaning on a wall behind him.

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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.

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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 at all times noticed him as an smug intruder.

“I’ve by no means taken orders from al-Zawahri,” Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, one of many community’s high figures in East Africa till his 2011 demise, sneered in a memoir posted on line in 2009. “We don’t take orders from anybody however our historic management.”

There have been rumors of al-Zawahri’s demise 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 scarf. That footage was the primary proof in months that he was nonetheless alive.

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

It mentioned it “strongly condemns this assault and calls it a transparent violation of worldwide rules and the Doha Settlement,” the 2020 U.S. pact with the Taliban that led to the withdrawal of American forces.

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“Such actions are a repetition of the failed experiences of the previous 20 years and are towards the pursuits of the USA of America, Afghanistan, and the area,” the assertion mentioned.


(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.)

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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