Al Qaeda Leader Killed by
US Drone Strike
The leader of al Qaeda and one of the main figures in planning the September 11 attacks was killed in a U.S. drone strike on Sunday.
Ayman al-Zawahiri was hiding in a wealthy neighborhood of Kabul, Afghanistan, according to U.S. military officials, when a guided missile strike killed him as he stood on a balcony. No other casualties were reported.
The strike followed months of planning following the CIA's confirmation of al-Zawahiri's location, which it had sought for over two decades. Close monitoring of the home and al-Zawahiri's daily routines reportedly enabled the precision strike while ensuring no others would be harmed. U.S. officials also believe the Taliban, which took control of Afghanistan last year, was aware of al-Zawahiri's location despite international agreements to not harbor individuals wanted for terrorism. The Taliban has denied that accusation.
The missile used was reportedly a high-precision Hellfire missile, likely fired from an unmanned drone. This type of missile is believed to be the one used to kill Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in 2020 and other targets of anti-terrorism operations.
Voices across the political spectrum celebrated the success of the operation while also downplaying its broader impact and criticizing the Taliban for breaking terrorism agreements. Some conservatives were more critical of Biden for purportedly failing to hold the Taliban accountable for allegedly allowing al-Zawahiri to seek refuge in Kabul.