President Joe Biden speaks during a Fourth of July celebration for military families on the South Lawn of the White House on July 4, 2022.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci
US President Joe Biden announced that Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a drone strike.
The US military conducted a precision drone strike operation on Saturday in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Al-Zawahiri was formerly Osama Bin Laden’s no. 2 and had led the extremist group since 2011.
US President Joe Biden confirmed on Monday that the US has killed the leader of al-Qaeda.
Al-Zawahiri, who was heavily involved in planning the terrorist attacks of 9/11, was killed in a US drone strike operation that took place on Saturday in the Afghan capital of Kabul, Biden said in a speech Monday.
“Justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more,” Biden said. “We make it clear, that no matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, the US will find you and take you out.”
Al-Zawahiri, 71, was marked a “most wanted terrorist” by the FBI, which had listed a reward of up to $25 million for information leading to his capture or conviction. He was originally a doctor and was born in Egypt, founding the Egyptian Islamic Jihad before joining his group with Al-Qaeda. He also served time in prison for a conspiracy to kill former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.
With Al-Qaeda, he was later indicted for the Aug. 7, 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
“We continue to mourn every innocent life lost on 9/11,” Biden said on Monday. “My hope is that this action will bring those families a little bit of closure.”
Biden, who seemed fatigued, delivered the speech despite a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
Al-Zawahiri, who was formerly Osama Bin Laden’s no. 2, had assumed responsibility for the group after Navy SEALs killed Bin Laden in 2011. According to The Washington Post, Zawahiri was highly involved in the group’s operations since the 1990s and took on a more prominent role after the attacks of 9/11.
“Zawahiri is used to dominating from behind the scenes,” Jarret Brachman, research director of the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point told The Washington Post in 2006. “In my opinion, he’s sort of like the Dick Cheney of al-Qaeda.”
The announcement of the drone strike operation comes almost one year after the US’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan following a two-decade war and military presence in the country. Following the pullout, Biden said that the US would continue military operations by air against the now-ruling Taliban and other groups – a process that has caught civilians in its crosshairs.
Biden said in his speech that Al-Zawahiri had reunited with immediate family in downtown Kabul in recent weeks where the US military was able to locate him. No civilians or family members were injured in the operation, according to Biden.
In August, a US drone strike targeting a member of extremist group ISIS-K killed 10 Afghan civilians, including 7 children. The Pentagon acknowledged it was a “botched” operation but said that the US military did not violate any laws of war.
“We will always remain vigilant, and we will always act,” Biden said in his address.