Washington(A.P.)- President Joe Biden has announced that a U.S. drone strike in Kabul killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri. Biden is hailing the operation as delivering “justice.” In addition, the President expressed hope that it would bring “one more measure of closure” to the families of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
In a Monday evening address from the White House, the President said that U.S. intelligence officials tracked al-Zawahri to a home in downtown Kabul where he was hiding with his family. The President approved the operation last week. U.S. forces carried out the mission on Sunday. Al-Zawahri worked with Osama bin Laden to plot the 9/11 attacks.
The U.S. drone strike is intensifying global scrutiny of Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers. They pledged not to harbor members of the extremist group as they sought desperately needed international aid after overthrowing Kabul’s Western-backed government.
Al-Zawahri’s killing raises questions about whether the Taliban leadership knew America’s most-wanted fugitives lived among them in a highly secured Kabul neighborhood, once home to top government officials and Westerners.
Rumors also persist of unease in the Taliban’s ranks — particularly between the faction known as the Haqqani network, which sheltered al-Zawahri, and other Taliban figures. The moment is also putting into stark relief mounting evidence that after America’s withdrawal, Afghanistan has once again become an active staging ground for Islamic terror groups looking to attack the West.
The Biden administration says it shows Americans at home and allies abroad that the United States hasn’t lost focus, or the ability, to strike against terrorists in the region — and validates its decision to end two decades of fighting in Afghanistan.