Biden declares ‘justice delivered’ after drone strike kills Al Qaeda chief


President Biden introduced Monday that Al Qaeda chief Ayman Zawahiri, a key plotter of the Sept. 11 assaults, was killed in a CIA drone strike he ordered concentrating on the terrorist chief in Afghanistan.

One of many world’s most needed terrorists, Zawahiri helped oversee the 2001 assaults on New York and the Pentagon, working intently with former Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, and had led the group over the past decade since Bin Laden’s loss of life.

For the report:

4:05 p.m. Aug. 2, 2022An earlier model of this text mentioned Ayman Zawahiri was killed in a drone strike at 6:48 p.m. PDT on Saturday at a residential location in Kabul. The 71-year-old Egyptian was killed at 6:18 a.m. on Sunday in Kabul.

The 71-year-old Egyptian was killed in a drone strike at 6:18 a.m. on Sunday at a residential location in Kabul, which fell to the Taliban a 12 months in the past virtually instantly after Biden ordered the final U.S. forces to withdraw — a improvement that many feared would result in extra terrorist exercise in Afghanistan’s capital.

“Justice has been delivered, and this terrorist chief is not any extra,” Biden mentioned from the Blue Room balcony, as he remained in seclusion contained in the White Home residence after testing optimistic for the coronavirus in a rebound case. “Irrespective of how lengthy it takes, regardless of how lengthy you cover, if you’re a menace to our individuals, the US will discover you and take you out.”

Afghanistan, Biden continued, “can’t be a launching pad towards the US. We’re going to see to it that received’t occur.”

A decade after Navy SEALs killed Bin Laden throughout a daring raid on his closely fortified compound on the outskirts of Abbottabad, Pakistan, Zawahiri’s whereabouts had remained a thriller.

However U.S. intelligence officers, a senior administration official mentioned, tracked Zawahiri and his household to a secure home in downtown Kabul the place they moved earlier this 12 months. Over the following a number of months, officers noticed Zawahiri on a balcony, the place he was finally struck and killed in a plan devised to reduce the chance to his household and civilians within the closely populated space.

Biden, the official mentioned, was first briefed in April, obtained updates on the intelligence all through Could and June, and gave the ultimate go-ahead for the assault after a gathering with prime Cupboard and nationwide safety advisors on July 25, the place all of the individuals expressed help for the mission.

Days later, a drone carried out the assault, firing two Hellfire missiles at Zawahiri on the balcony, killing him and him alone, in keeping with the official. Not like the operation concentrating on Bin Laden, which lasted 40 minutes and ended with 5 individuals killed, together with one in all Bin Laden’s sons, the drone strike was carried out with none U.S. navy presence on the bottom in Afghanistan — “rigorously deliberate,” Biden mentioned, to reduce collateral harm. “There have been no civilian casualties,” he mentioned, praising the intelligence officers who helped plan and execute the strike.

The Taliban was lengthy conscious of Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul, the senior administration official mentioned. They added that members of the Haqqani community, a terrorist group that’s a part of the Taliban authorities, whisked away the terrorist’s kin shortly after the strike in an effort to cover their presence within the metropolis.

The group’s harboring of Zawahiri, the administration official added, amounted to a violation of the Doha settlement between the U.S. and the Taliban, below which the group agreed to not cooperate with terrorist teams.

Biden, lengthy skeptical in regards to the navy’s dedication to the warfare in Afghanistan, famously cautioned President Obama in regards to the dangers of the 2011 Bin Laden raid when serving as vice chairman.

Ending the warfare there after 20 years of battle was amongst Biden’s prime first-year priorities, and he pushed forward with the drawdown within the face of warnings from the Pentagon, scoffing on the potential for the nation’s former authorities to fall to the Taliban simply weeks earlier than it did. The international coverage debacle pressured the White Home to scramble to airlift hundreds of susceptible Afghans to security, as a president who ran on expertise and competency noticed his approval drop.

The profitable strike on Zawahiri, Biden mentioned, validated his personal rationale for ending the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, which was predicated partly on a perception that counterterrorism operations might nonetheless be carried out and not using a everlasting presence on the bottom.

“I made the choice that after 20 years of warfare, the US not wanted hundreds of shoes on the bottom in Afghanistan to guard America from terrorists who search to do us hurt,” the president mentioned. “I made a promise to the American people who we’d proceed to conduct efficient counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and past. We’ve carried out simply that.”

Senate Majority Chief Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) praised Biden for “decisive motion that brings ultimate justice to a loathsome mass assassin … who helped orchestrate the cold-blooded homicide of hundreds of my fellow New Yorkers on 9/11.”

However a number of Republicans, whereas praising the intelligence officers concerned, criticized Biden for final 12 months’s messy pullout of Afghanistan, suggesting that Zawahiri’s harboring by the Taliban in Kabul underscores how the scenario there has made the world much less secure.

“Our chaotic and lethal withdrawal from Afghanistan opened the door for Al Qaeda to function freely contained in the nation to conduct exterior operations towards the US and our allies once more,” mentioned Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the rating GOP member of the Home International Affairs Committee.

In an announcement, Home Minority Chief Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) known as for a categorised briefing “to debate the resurgence of Al Qaeda within the area over the previous 12 months.”

Biden, in his temporary prime-time deal with to the nation, reminded the nation of Zawahiri’s central position in quite a few Al Qaeda assaults, together with the 2000 bombing of the U.S. destroyer Cole in Yemen and naturally Sept. 11.

Chatting with kin of these killed within the assaults on the World Commerce Middle, the Pentagon and aboard United Flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, Pa., Biden expressed hope that Zawahiri’s loss of life “will probably be another measure of closure.”

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WASHINGTON —  President Biden introduced Monday that Al Qaeda chief Ayman Zawahiri, a key plotter of the Sept. 11 assaults, was killed in a CIA drone strike he ordered concentrating on the terrorist chief in Afghanistan. One of many world’s most needed terrorists, Zawahiri helped oversee the 2001 assaults on New York and the Pentagon, working…