Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri was killed in a US airstrike in Kabul over the weekend, US President Joe Biden announced.
It is the heaviest blow the terrorist organization has suffered since 2011, when its founder Osama bin Laden was killed in an operation by US special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Zawahri had been in hiding for years and the operation to find and kill him was the result of "careful, patient and persistent" work by US counterterrorism and intelligence officials, a senior US government official said.
As of this US announcement, the Egyptian doctor was said to be either in the semi-autonomous tribal areas of Pakistan, or somewhere in Afghanistan.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the US official provided the following details on the planning and execution of the operation:
* For years, US authorities were aware of the existence of a network believed to be supporting Zawahri. For the past year, after the US military withdrew from Afghanistan, US intelligence agencies have been looking for clues as to whether and where the al Qaeda leader was in the country.
This year, his family was located: his wife, daughter and her children. They had settled in a hideout in Kabul. Then, they traced Ayman al-Zawahri himself to this house in the Afghan capital.
* For several months, intelligence officials had been increasingly confident that they had located Zawahri in the Kabul hideout, and in early April they briefed senior government officials. President Biden was then briefed by the national security adviser of the American presidency, Jake Sullivan.
"We were able to ascertain how" the occupants of the home lived "through multiple independent sources," the US official explained.
After Zawahri arrived at the hideout in Kabul, US intelligence found that he did not leave it, but went out onto the balcony—the target of the strike—repeatedly.
* Officials studied the structure and physical environment of the hideout, and how its occupants moved about within it, to ensure that an operation to kill Zawahri could be conducted without threatening the structural integrity of the building and minimizing the risk to the members of his family and other civilians.
* In recent weeks, the US president has been meeting with his advisers and ministers to come up with a course of action. On July 1, Mr. Biden was briefed on the details of the proposed operation in the so-called Situation Room by members of his administration and the director of US intelligence, William Burns.
He asked questions about the light conditions, the weather, the materials with which the house was constructed and other factors that could determine the success of the operation, according to the US official. He also asked to be presented with an analysis of the possible impact of the strike on Kabul.
* A small circle of legal advisers from various agencies reviewed the CIA intelligence and confirmed that Zawahri was a legitimate target, given that he remained the leader of al-Qaeda. On July 25, US President Biden convened a meeting of key members of his administration and advisers to receive the latest update and discuss with them how the killing of the al-Qaeda leader would affect Washington's relationship with the Taliban, among other things , according to the official. After hearing the views of his ministers and advisers, Mr Biden approved the proposal to carry out a "precision air strike" on the condition that the risk of civilian casualties be minimized.
* The strike was carried out at 21:48 Saturday (US time; 04:48 Sunday Cyprus time) by a UAV armed with Hellfire missiles.
Former President Barack Obama expresses his "hope" that the death of the leader of Al-Qaeda will "pacify" the members of the families of the victims of September 11
Former US President Barack Obama said the news of the death of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri in a US airstrike in Kabul shows that "it is possible to root out terrorism without being at war in Afghanistan".
"I also hope it brings some comfort to the family members of the victims of 11/2009 and all others who suffered at the hands of Al Qaeda," the Democratic former head of state (2017-XNUMX) added via Twitter.
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri's death makes world 'safer', PM Justin Trudeau says
"The death of Ayman al-Zawahri is a step towards making the world safer," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said via Twitter after US President Joe Biden announced that the al-Qaeda leader had been killed in a US airstrike in Kabul.
"Canada will continue to work with our partners globally to address terrorist threats, promote peace and security, and keep people here and around the world safe," added the head of government.
Source: ΑΠΕ ΜΠΕ