The United States introduced on Monday that it had killed Ayman al-Zawahri in a drone strike in Afghanistan, ending a 21-year-manhunt for the terrorist chief, who was instrumental within the assaults of Sept. 11, 2001, and who took command of Al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden’s demise.
The killing of al-Zawahri, who was one of many world’s most wished and feared terrorists, is taken into account a significant victory for the Biden administration.
But the strike has additionally raised questions in regards to the terrorist chief’s presence in Afghanistan one 12 months after Mr. Biden withdrew American forces from the nation, clearing the best way for the Taliban to retake management. Here is what we all know up to now in regards to the assault, who al-Zawahri was, and the results of his killing.
What do we all know in regards to the assault?
Al-Zawahri was killed by the C.I.A. in an early-morning drone strike over the weekend within the Afghan capital, Kabul, American officers stated. He was focused at a home within the Sherpur space, a rich downtown neighborhood that when housed dozens of Western embassies and now’s house to some high-ranking Taliban officers.
Mr. Biden, in a nationwide handle delivered from a balcony on the White House, stated that he had approved the strike two days earlier. “Now justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more,” he stated.
The operation to kill al-Zawahri had been in movement for months. American intelligence businesses positioned the secure home the place he was hiding earlier this 12 months, after intelligence sources discovered that his household had moved there. The C.I.A. then tracked his actions till they acquired authorization for the strike, and focused him on a balcony with two Hellfire missiles, officers stated.
American officers stated that no person else was killed within the assault, together with members of his household or any close by civilians. Taliban safety forces have restricted entry to the blast web site and there has not but been impartial affirmation that no civilians had been killed.
Who was Ayman al-Zawahri?
Al-Zawahri, who was killed at 71, was an Egyptian-born physician — a surgeon who had dedicated to violent revolution on the age of 15, when he helped kind a militant cell looking for to overthrow the Egyptian authorities.
He emerged as a grasp of terrorism and was extensively thought-about the architect of the Sept. 11 assaults in opposition to the United States in 2001.
Many counterterrorism consultants thought-about him the mental backbone of Al Qaeda. Al-Zawahri was Bin Laden’s private doctor. The males turned allies, pooling their assets to create an instrument of mass homicide to harm Western powers and governments they supported. Al-Zawahri provided the political acumen and course; bin Laden supplied cash, status and charisma.
The legacy of their efforts took an unsure flip 11 years in the past after bin Laden was killed in a raid by a U.S. Navy SEAL crew in Pakistan. Many believed Al Qaeda couldn’t survive his absence. But al-Zawahri took up the mantle and managed to maintain collectively the group’s disparate world franchises even with the rise of the Islamic State militant group and as Al Qaeda branches in Yemen and West Africa’s Sahel area exerted extra independence and authority, officers stated.
What was he doing in Afghanistan?
The assault in opposition to al-Zawahri is the primary recognized counterterrorism strike in Afghanistan since Mr. Biden withdrew American forces virtually one 12 months in the past, practically 20 years after the United States invaded the nation to drive Al Qaeda out.
Officials have stated that al-Zawahri had moved again to Afghanistan earlier this 12 months, after American forces withdrew.
Al-Zawahri was lengthy believed to have been dwelling in Pakistan. His secure haven in Kabul is a sign of Al Qaeda’s continued use of services, homes, buildings and compounds between Afghanistan and its neighbor.
Al Qaeda had a robust presence within the nation when the Taliban final dominated it — the important thing cause that the U.S. invaded in 2001, within the wake of the Sept. 11 assaults.
Throughout a lot of the conflict, Qaeda fighters had been largely seen as battlefield advisers amongst their rebel brethren and consultants at roadside bomb development and suicide assaults.
But some Taliban factions had a better relationship with the terrorist group than others — particularly the Haqqani community, whose senior management aided bin Laden throughout the Soviet-Afghan conflict.
In his speech on Monday, Mr. Biden stated al-Zawahri’s killing validated his dedication to proceed counterterrorism operations regardless of his determination to take away U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
“I made the decision that after 20 years of war, the United States no longer needed thousands of boots on the ground in Afghanistan, to protect America from terrorists who seek to do us harm,” he stated. “And I made a promise to the American people that we would continue to conduct effective counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and beyond. We’ve done just that.”
Didn’t the Taliban promise to chop ties with Al Qaeda?
A deal between the United States and the Taliban, the Doha Agreement, was signed in February 2020.
The settlement promised the withdrawal of all NATO troops from Afghanistan, conditioned partially on a dedication from the Taliban to maintain teams like Al Qaeda from utilizing Afghanistan as a base for assaults on the West.
Western officers hoped the deal would sever ties between the Taliban and worldwide terrorist networks.
Although the Taliban have stated repeatedly that they had been adhering to the Doha phrases, analysts have warned that teams together with Al Qaeda and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or the Pakistani Taliban, had discovered refuge in Afghanistan because the Taliban’s takeover final 12 months.
In June, a United Nations report warned that Al Qaeda had discovered “increased freedom of action” in Afghanistan because the Taliban seized energy. The report famous that Al Qaeda leaders had been probably dwelling in Kabul, and that an uptick in public statements by al-Zawahri instructed that he was capable of lead extra successfully after the takeover.
Al-Zawahri’s presence in Kabul will solely additional name into query the Taliban’s dedication to their finish of the peace deal.
How have Afghans reacted to the strike?
The Taliban on Tuesday strongly condemned the drone assault, calling it a “violation of international principles and the Doha agreement” however didn’t affirm or reply to the reported killing of al-Zawahri.
“Such actions are a repetition of the failed experiences of the past years and are against the interests of the U.S.A., Afghanistan and the region,” a high Taliban official, Zabihullah Mujahid, stated in an announcement.
The assault, in a busy neighborhood, alarmed civilians throughout Kabul, who responded with anger and helplessness. Nearly a 12 months after the Taliban seized energy, their nation is on the verge of financial collapse.
“I wish we had this power to defend our country,” stated Ezatullah, a 29-year-old from Logar Province had traveled to Kabul to obtain his marriage license and whose full identify is being withheld for safety causes.
“The people can’t show any reaction or anger because they cannot say what they want to and they have economic problems,” he stated. “Everyone is busy finding a piece of bread for themselves.”
Munir, 57, who misplaced his job after the Taliban got here to energy and whose full identify can be being withheld, stated that al-Zawahri’s presence in Kabul was a transparent indication that the Doha Agreement had been damaged.
“The violation of the Doha Agreement is to the detriment of the Afghan people; the Afghan people are too weak to react to the attacks,” he stated, including that the folks of Afghanistan “have always been victims of foreign and domestic policies.”
Christina Goldbaum, Yaqoob Akbary and Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed reporting.