President Joe Biden announced Monday evening that the United States carried out a drone strike in Afghanistan that killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, a revelation that is expected to weaken the terror group’s ability to operate.
“He carved a trail of murder and violence against American citizens, American servicemembers, American diplomats and American interests,” Biden said of the pre-dawn precision strike that killed al-Zawahiri.
“We made 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,” Biden added.
According to a senior Biden administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the strike’s details, US intelligence analysts identified al-location Zawahiri’s earlier this year.
According to the official, the US had been monitoring al-movements Zawahiri’s for months and had determined that he was living in a safe house in Kabul with his family.
“We identified al-Zawahiri on multiple occasions for sustained periods of time on the balcony where he was ultimately struck,” the official said.
“Al-Zawahiri’s family members were present in other parts of the safe house at the time of the strike and were purposely not targeted and were unarmed. We have no indication that civilians were harmed in this strike,” the official added.
According to the official, Biden received his final intelligence briefing on the subject on July 25 before authorizing the strike, which included an unmanned aerial vehicle and two Hellfire missiles.
Before ascending to the top ranks of the al-Qaeda network, al-Zawahiri, 71, was a physician and the founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. He was one of the architects behind the devastating Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
In the weeks following the September 11 attacks, the Taliban provided safe haven for al-Qaeda while America prepared for its longest war.
In 2011, al-Zawahiri succeeded Osama bin Laden as the leader of al-Qaeda. Zawahiri, an Egyptian doctor and surgeon, helped coordinate the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Ayman al-Zawahri has been the leader of al-Qaeda since June 2011 after Osama Bin Laden was killed.
The US government previously indicted Al-Zawahiri for his alleged role in the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya.
The State Department had previously offered up to $25 million in reward money for information leading to his arrest.
The drone strike on Sunday was the first known CIA counterterrorism operation since the Taliban took over Kabul last year. According to a senior administration official, the US did not coordinate the strike or notify the Taliban.
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