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Al Qaeda chief Zawahiri killed in CIA drone strike in Afghanistan

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Osama bin Laden sits along with his adviser Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian linked to the al Qaeda community, throughout an interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir (not pictured) in a picture provided by Daybreak newspaper November 10, 2001. Hamid Mir/Ed

By Idrees Ali

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a CIA drone strike in Afghanistan over the weekend, U.S. officers stated on Monday, the most important blow to the militant group since its founder Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011.

Zawahiri, an Egyptian surgeon who had a $25 million bounty on his head, helped coordinate the Sept. 11, 2001, assaults that killed almost 3,000 folks.

One of many U.S. officers, talking on the situation of anonymity, stated the CIA carried out a drone strike within the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday.

“Over the weekend, america performed a counterterrorism operation in opposition to a big al Qaeda goal in Afghanistan,” a senior administration official stated in an announcement to reporters. “The operation was profitable and there have been no civilian casualties,” the official added.

It was not instantly clear how america, which doesn’t have U.S. troops on the bottom, confirmed that Zawahiri had been killed.

There have been rumors of Zawahiri’s loss of life a number of instances lately, and he was lengthy reported to have been unwell.

His loss of life raises questions on whether or not Zawahiri obtained sanctuary from the Taliban following their takeover of Kabul in August 2021.

The drone assault is the primary recognized U.S. strike inside Afghanistan since U.S. troops and diplomats left the nation in August 2021. The transfer could bolster the credibility of Washington’s assurances that america can nonetheless handle threats from Afghanistan and not using a army presence within the nation.

U.S. President Joe Biden will ship remarks on Monday at 7:30 p.m. (2330 GMT) on what the White Home described as a “profitable counter-terrorism operation.”

In an announcement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed {that a} strike occurred and strongly condemned it, calling it a violation of “worldwide ideas.”

Zawahiri’s whereabouts – variously rumored to be in Pakistan’s tribal space or inside Afghanistan – had been unknown till the strike.

A video launched in April through which he praised an Indian Muslim lady for defying a ban on sporting an Islamic head scarf dispelled rumors that he had died.

A loud explosion echoed by way of Kabul early Sunday morning.

“A home was hit by a rocket in Sherpoor. There have been no casualties as the home was empty,” Abdul Nafi Takor, spokesman of the inside ministry, stated earlier.

One Taliban supply, requesting anonymity, stated there had been reviews of a minimum of one drone flying over Kabul that morning.

With different senior al Qaeda members, Zawahiri is believed to have plotted the October 12, 2000, assault on the united statesCole naval vessel in Yemen which killed 17 U.S. sailors and injured greater than 30 others, the Rewards for Justice web site stated.

He was indicted in america for his function within the August 7, 1998, bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 folks and wounded greater than 5,000 others.

Each bin laden and Zawahiri eluded seize when U.S.-led forces toppled Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities in late 2001 following the Sept. 11 assaults on america.

Biden’s choice to kill Zawahiri is bound to be in comparison with the cautious stance he initially took in conferences that led to then-President Barack Obama’s order for the Pakistan raid that killed bin Laden in 2011.

Biden, who was then vp, has acknowledged that he suggested Obama to take extra time. However he additionally instructed him to “comply with your instincts” and finally supported his choice to go forward.

Obama, in his memoirs, wrote that Biden was involved about “the large penalties of failure” and recommended the president to “defer any choice till the intelligence group was extra sure that bin Laden was within the compound.”

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