President Biden announced from the White House and on his Twitter account that the US killed former Al Qaeda figurehead Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike.
“I authorized a precision strike that would remove him from the battlefield, once and for all,” Biden confirmed. “People around the world no longer need to fear the vicious and determined killer. The United States continues to demonstrate our resolve and our capacity to defend the American people against those who seek to do us harm.”
Zawahiri was said to be one of the main instigators behind several attacks on the US and Biden also said he was “deeply involved” in the planning of September 11th.
A source within Al Qaeda said that Al-Zawahiri moved to “a very safe place” after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.
White House officials said that Al-Zawahiri was spotted on the balcony of his safe house on several occasions. Officials also said that Al-Zawahiri continued to produce Al Qaeda propaganda videos from his safe house.
According to officials, Biden personally attended meetings in May, June and July regarding a strike against Al-Zawahiri. Officials said Biden “asked detailed questions about what we knew and how we knew it. Importantly, he examined closely the model of al-Zawahiri’s house that the intelligence community had built and brought into the White House situation room for briefings on this issue.”
Officials also said that Biden showed a strong attention to detail and was very keen to remove the risk of any civilian casualties. “He was particularly focused on ensuring that every step had been taken to ensure the operation would minimise that risk and he wanted to understand the basis on which we had confidence in our assessment,” the source said.
After all meetings were concluded, Biden went on to authorize the airstrike.
Al-Zawahiri was on the balcony when he was hit by two hellfire missiles. “Two Hellfire missiles were fired at Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was killed. We are confident through our intelligence sources and methods, including multiple streams of intelligence, that we killed al-Zawahiri and no other individual,” a White House official said.
Officials confirmed that Zawahiri’s family members were elsewhere in a safe house at the time of the strike and were unharmed.
“We have identified a concerted effort to restrict access to the safe house in the surrounding area for hours after the strike. The safe house used by al-Zawahiri is now empty,” officials said.
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