US President Joe Biden on Monday night said that al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed over the weekend in a drone strike in a US counterterrorism operation.
“He carved a trail of murder and violence against American citizens, American service members, American diplomats, and American interests,” President Biden said in a speech from the White House balcony. “Now, justice has been delivered. And this terrorist leader is no more.”
He said that al-Zawahiri was killed in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
“After relentlessly seeking Zawahiri for years under Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump, our intelligence community located Zawahiri earlier this year,” Mr. Biden said. “He had moved to downtown Kabul to reunite with members of his immediate family.”
Quoting senior officials from the Biden administration, US media reported that the United States government had multiple, independent sources confirming al-Zawahiri’s whereabouts at a safehouse.
Biden said that after he considered “clear and convincing evidence” of al-Zawahiri’s location, he “authorized a precision strike that would remove him from the battlefield once and for all.” He said he gave his final approval to “go get him” one week ago.
“None of his family members were hurt and there were no civilian casualties,” Biden said.
With al-Zawahiri’s death, all of the top plotters of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are now either dead or captured.
The drone strike was conducted on a house in the Sherpoor area in downtown Kabul on Saturday, July 30, at around 6:30 am local time.
Initially, the Taliban reported that it was an explosion caused by a rocket shelling. But on Monday the group confirmed that a US drone strike targeted a house in Kabul.
Al-Zawahiri was one of the world’s most-wanted terrorists and oversaw the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, alongside al Qaeda founder, Osama bin Laden.
Both escaped US forces in Afghanistan in late 2001. Since then, Zawahiri’s whereabouts had long been a mystery. Bin Laden was killed in a raid by US forces in Pakistan in 2011.
The Associated Press first reported that Zawahiri was killed.
The Taliban did not provide further details in a statement released on the incident on Monday evening.