President Joe Biden announced Monday that the United States successfully conducted “a counterterrorism operation” over the weekend that killed al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The operation was conducted at 9:48 p.m. Eastern time July 30, or 6:18 a.m Kabul time July 31, and carried out “by an unmanned aerial vehicle,” according to senior administration officials.
“We have multiple intelligence sources, via multiple methods, that have been able to confirm that this was al-Zawahiri and that we were successful in achieving our objective,” one official said, according to the Daily Caller.
Zawahri helped Osama bin Laden during the 9/11 attacks, and served as his successor in 2011, following bin Laden’s death.
In a speech Monday night, Biden said “”justice has been delivered” and warned those seeking to harm the United States.
Biden explained that Zawahri “coordinated al Qaeda’s branches all around the world,” including “setting priorities for providing operational guidance that call for and inspire attacks against U.S. targets”.
“Now, justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more,” he said. “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,” the president added. “We make it clear again tonight that, no matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out”.
Zawahiri and his family recently moved to a safe house in Afghanistan, and although it’s believed he never left the compound, he would often hang out on the balcony, according to a senior administration official.
Biden said he “authorized a precision strike that would remove him from the battlefield once and for all,” and gave the final approval “to go get him” on July 25.
One official said Monday that there were no civilian casualties as a result of the operation.
“Zawahri’s death deals a significant blow to al Qaeda and will degrade the group’s ability to operate, including against the U.S. homeland,” the official explained. “This action keeps faith with the president’s solemn pledge to protect Americans from terrorist threats, including threats that might emerge from Afghanistan”.
The official Twitter account of the Spokesman of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban, on Monday said “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan strongly condemns this attack on any pretext and calls it a clear violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement”.