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Friday, Aug 12, 2022

Why did US kill Al-Zawahri — and how was he killed?

Why did US kill Al-Zawahri — and how was he killed?

A US drone strike in Afghanistan this weekend killed Ayman Al-Zawahri, who helped Osama bin Laden plot the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and helped Al-Qaida survive and spread in the years after.
By finding and striking Al-Zawahiri, President Joe Biden said, the US was ensuring that Afghanistan under the Taliban would never again become a base for attacks on the rest of the world, as it was in 2001.

A look at the Al-Qaida leader, who evaded US capture for 21 years after the suicide airliner attacks that in many ways changed America and its relations with the rest of the world.

After the years of quietly assembling the suicide attackers, funds and plans for the Sept. 11 attack, Zawahri and lieutenants ensured that al-Qaida survived the global manhunt that followed to attack again, Associated Press (AP) reported.

On the run after 9/11, Al-Zawahri rebuilt al-Qaida leadership in the Afghan-Pakistan border region and was the supreme leader over branches in Iraq, Asia, Yemen and beyond. With a credo of targeting near and far enemies, al-Qaida after 9/11 carried out years of unrelenting attacks: in Bali, Mombasa, Riyadh, Jakarta, Istanbul, Madrid, London and beyond. Attacks that killed 52 people in London in 2005 were among al-Qaida’s last devastating attacks in the West, as drone strikes, counterterror raids and missiles launched by the U.S. and others killed al-Qaida-affiliated fighters and shattered parts of the network.

Around sunrise Sunday, Al-Zawahri walked out on the balcony of a house in Kabul, Afghanistan. He apparently lingered outside on the balcony, as U.S. intelligence had noted he often did. On this day, a US drone fired two Hellfire missiles at the al-Qaida leader as he stood, according to U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the strike.

His presence in Afghanistan had been widely suspected for some time, analysts said. US officials learned this year that Zawahri’s wife and other family members had moved to a safe house in Kabul recently. Zawahri soon followed, the senior administration officials said.

US officials, joined by top leaders all the way up to, eventually, Biden, spent careful months confirming his identity — and his fateful practice of standing alone on that same balcony — and planned the strike.
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