Biden: 'Justice Has Been Delivered' to al-Qaeda Leader

CIA drone strike killed Ayman al-Zawahri in Kabul
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2022 5:46 PM CDT
Updated Aug 1, 2022 7:35 PM CDT
Report: al-Qaeda Leader Killed in US Drone Strike
In this 1998 photo, Ayman al-Zawahri poses for a photograph in Khost, Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Mazhar Ali Khan, File)

(Newser) Update: This file has been updated with more details and President Biden's address.
Ayman al-Zawahri, leader of al-Qaeda since the death of Osama bin Laden, was killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan over the weekend, President Biden told the nation Monday evening. "Justice has been delivered," he said, per CNN. "And this terrorist leader is no more." No civilians were injured in the strike, and none of al-Zawahri's family members was hurt in the mission that Biden pronounced a "total success." The US had pursued him for years, Biden said, through the terms of Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump; a US bounty had been placed on his head.

"He carved a trail of murder and violence against American citizens, American service members, American diplomats, and American interests," Biden said in his brief speech from the Blue Room balcony at the White House, per the Washington Post. The terrorist was involved in the planning of the 9/11 attacks, Biden said, expressing hope that this would bring comfort to the victims' families, per the AP. He also included a warning to other terrorists, saying the US "will always do what is necessary" to keep Americans safe.

According to the AP's sources, the strike was carried out by the CIA. The al-Qaeda leader was located at a house owned by a top aide to senior Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, according to a senior intelligence official. They say the death was confirmed by a CIA ground team and aerial reconnaissance. Al-Zawahri, who was bin Laden's deputy from 1998 and took charge of the terrorist organization when bin Laden was killed in a 2011 strike, expanded the group's reach internationally.

The leader's whereabouts were a mystery for years—and until recently, there had been rumors that he died years ago. United Nations analysts said last month that he had been "confirmed to be alive and communicating freely," and his "increased comfort and ability to communicate" followed the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan, the Post reports. After a blast was heard in downtown Kabul early Sunday, a Taliban spokesman said a home in the capital had been hit by American drones, per the Post. Al-Zawahri was living with family members, Biden said. (Read more Ayman al-Zawahri stories.)

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