US takes out al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri in ‘successful’ Afghanistan
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The United States killed al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri in Afghanistan over the weekend in a successful counterterrorism strike, a senior administration official told Fox News.
President Biden on Monday night at 7:30 p.m. E.T. is expected to address the nation from the White House on the operation.
“Over the weekend, the United States conducted a counterterrorism operation against a significant al Qaeda target in Afghanistan,” the senior administration official told Fox News Monday. “The operation was successful and there were no civilian casualties.”
Two intelligence sources tell Fox News al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri was killed in the CIA drone strike.
BIDEN ADMIN WARNED NOT TO WITHHOLD AFTER-ACTION REPORTS ON BOTCHED AFGHANISTAN WITHDRAWAL
Former Vice President Dick Cheney told Fox News Digital in reaction to the news of the operation “It’s good that we got him, I’ve been out of the business for many years, so I am waiting to learn all the facts.”
Cheney served under former President George W. Bush, whose administration led the Global War on Terror after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The Biden administration closed the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and withdrew all military assets from Afghanistan on Aug. 31, 2021, ending the United States’ longest war.
President Biden, at the time, defended pulling out of Afghanistan by claiming al Qaeda was gone.
“What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point with al Qaeda gone?” Biden said on Aug. 20, 2021. “We went to Afghanistan for the express purpose of getting rid of al Qaeda in Afghanistan, as well as — as well as getting Osama bin Laden. And we did.”
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But Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, last September, warned lawmakers that terror groups like al Qaeda may be able to grow much faster following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, at the time, said that the focus of continued U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan would be countering terrorist threats, not the Taliban. Austin said the U.S. would “keep an eye on” al Qaeda, the extremist network whose use of Afghanistan as a haven for planning the 9/11 attacks on the United States was the reason U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001.
Ayman Al Zawahiri appeared in a video last year commemorating 20 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks despite rumors that he died months earlier.
Al Zawahiri was appointed the successor to Usama bin Laden in June 2011, a month after the terrorist leader was shot and killed by U.S. forces at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
The offficial Twitter account of the Spokesman of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban, posted that an “air strike was carried out on a residential house in Sherpur area of Kabul city. The nature of the incident was not revealed at first.”
The spokesperson condemned the strike.
“The security and intelligence agencies of the Islamic Emirate investigated the incident and found that the attack was carried out by American drones,” the spokesperson wrote. “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.”
The Taliban spokesperson added: “Such actions are a repetition of the failed experiences of the past 20 years and are against the interests of the United States of America, Afghanistan and the region.”
“Repeating such actions will damage the available opportunities,” the spokesperson said.
Fox News’ Andrew Murray and Jon Brown contributed to this report.
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