An early-morning drone strike has killed Ayman al-Zawahri, leader of Al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden’s death, at an urban safe house in Afghanistan ending a 21-year manhunt for the Egyptian radical. According to a confirmation made by the United States of America (USA) President, Joe Biden on Monday, “I authorized a precision strike that would remove him from the battlefield, once and for all.”
Mr Biden in a seven-minute nationally televised address from the White House stated that “Now justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more. We make it clear again tonight that 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.
We will never again, never again allow Afghanistan to become a terrorist safe haven, because he is gone and we’re going to make sure nothing else happens. It can’t be a launching pad against the United States. We’re going to see to it that won’t happen.”
A senior administration official had earlier informed reporters that “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.”
Al-Zawahiri, 71, was a close ally and personal physician of Osama bin Laden and had a $25m US reward on his head, and is regarded as one of the masterminds behind the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States. He took over al-Qaeda after the death of Bin Laden in 2011.