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Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri killed in drone strike by US: Report

News Agencies | Updated on: 2 August 2022, 8:39 IST
Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri


Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan, CNN reported citing sources on Monday (local time).

Taking to Twitter, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid confirmed the strike and said, "An air strike was carried out on a residential house in Sherpur area of Kabul city on July 31."

He said, "The nature of the incident was not apparent at first" but the security and intelligence services of the Islamic Emirate investigated the incident and "initial findings determined that the strike was carried out by an American drone."

Mujahid 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."

However, the US government has not yet confirmed the death. White House on Monday said that President Joe Biden will speak at 7:30 pm (local time) on "a successful counterterrorism operation" against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

"Over the weekend, the United States conducted a counterterrorism operation against a significant Al Qaeda target in Afghanistan. The operation was successful and there were no civilian casualties," a senior administration official said.

Zawahiri, who just turned 71 years old, had remained a visible international symbol of the group, 11 years after the US killed Osama bin Laden. At one point, he acted as bin Laden's personal physician, CNN reported.

He succeeded Laden as the chief of the group after Laden was hunted down by US SEAL forces in Jalalabad in Pakistan.

In 1998, he was indicted for his alleged role on August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya.

On August 7, 1998, nearly simultaneous bombs blew up in front of the American embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in Africa - 224 people died in the blasts, including 12 Americans, and more than 4,500 people were wounded.

The culmination of Zawahiri's terror plotting came on September 11, 2001, when nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center and Pentagon. A fourth hijacked airliner, headed for Washington, crashed in a Pennsylvania field after passengers fought back.

Both he and bin Laden escaped US forces in Afghanistan in late 2001.

In May 2003, for instance, almost simultaneous suicide bombings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, killed 23 people, including nine Americans, days after a tape thought to contain Zawahiri's voice was released, CNN reported.

The whereabouts of Zawahiri had long been a mystery. Rumours have spread since late 2020 that al-Zawahiri had died from an illness. A recent report from UN Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team confirmed that Zawahiri was living in Afghanistan and communicating freely.

It said that the proof that Al-Zawahiri was alive comes from the video messages issued by the group. The report also warned against the growing strength of terrorist groups including Al Qaeda and the Islamic State pose a great threat to the world.

The US State Department had offered a reward of up to USD 25 million for information leading directly to Zawahiri's capture.


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First published: 2 August 2022, 8:39 IST