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Al-Qaeda leader Zawahiri killed by USA missile strike in Afghanistan capital Kabul

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al- Zawahiri killed by a USA missile strike in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, the White House announced on Monday, 1, August.

The United States on Monday announced the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Zawahiri, in a “successful” operation against a target in Afghanistan.

Zawahiri was an Egyptian surgeon turned into one of the world’s most wanted terrorists.

He took over Al-Qaeda after the death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011 and was often referred to as Bin Laden’s right-hand man; the chief ideologue of al-Qaeda.

He is believed to have been the “operational brain” behind the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States that killed nearly 3,000 people.

He had been on the run ever since, and after years of tracking him down, US armed forces fired two Hellfire missiles from a drone flying above the Afghan capital, striking his safe house and killing him, President Joe Biden announced on Monday.

US officials described an operation as meticulously planned as that which killed bin Laden in his Pakistan hideout in 2011.

“For several years the US government has been aware of a network that we assessed supported Zawahiri,” a senior administration official told reporters.

But it was only this year that US intelligence learned that his family, his wife, his daughter, and her children, had moved to the Afghan capital. 

They were careful, the official said, exercising “longstanding terrorist tradecraft” to prevent anyone from tracking them to the Qaeda leader.

Still, eventually, Zawahiri showed up and never left.

“We identified Zawahiri on multiple occasions for sustained periods of time on the balcony,” the official said.

Throughout May and June, an attack strategy was devised. The American government kept a close eye on the multi-story house—though the official would not specify how—to comprehend the family’s behavioral patterns.

To reduce the risk to bystanders, they examined the home’s construction in order to hit Zawahiri without endangering the stability of the structure.

Defense and intelligence personnel completed the plan in June, and they used a precise model of the White House to present it to Biden on July 1. 

According to the official, Biden inquired in-depth about the building, weather conditions, and the risk to civilians.

On July 25, Biden finally made a choice.

The strike involved a US drone, armed with two precision-guided Hellfire missiles, which were launched at 6:18 am Sunday, Kabul time.

Zawahiri was “killed on the balcony,” the official said.

The missiles appear not to have been ordinary Hellfires, whose high explosives could have destroyed the home.

Apparent photographs of the building show only a few windows on one floor blown out, and the rest intact.

The official did not provide details but expressed strong confidence that Zawahiri had been killed and no others were hurt. 

“Zawahiri’s family members were present in other parts of the safe house at the time of the strike and were purposely not targeted and were not harmed,” he said.

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