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US missile strike eliminates Al-Qaeda chief Zawahiri in Kabul

“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. We shall never waver from defending our nation and its people ... Now justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more," Biden said in his address to the nation on Monday evening (US time).

WASHINGTON, Aug 1: Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al Zawahiri was killed by US missiles in Kabul on Sunday. Bin Laden's strategist in the 9/11 terror attacks in the US in 2001, Zawahiri (71) was eliminated in a successful air strike on Sunday (Kabul time), President Joe Biden announced Monday evening (US time). The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) carried out the operation outside Kabul.

“Zawahiri carved a trail of murder and violence against American citizens. Now justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more,” Biden said. "On Saturday (Sunday in Kabul), at my direction, the United States successfully conducted an airstrike in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed the emir of al-Qa’ida: Ayman al-Zawahiri. Justice has been delivered," the POTUS post on Twitter said.

Zawahiri was standing on the balcony of a safe house when a drone fired two Hellfire missiles targeted at him. Zawahiri’s other family members were present but only the terror mastermind was killed in the mission.

Biden said he gave his go-ahead to the operation on July 25.

US officials said Zawahiri's presence in the Afghan Capital was a "clear violation" of a deal the Taliban had signed with the US in Doha in 2020 that paved the way for the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Taliban had promised in the deal not to allow Afghanistan to be used again as a launchpad for terrorism.

He had a $25 million US bounty on his head.

Zawahiri had taken on the mantle of Al Qaeda mastermind Osama Bin Laden after he was killed by US forces in Abbottabad in Pakistan where he was hiding in 2011. They were wanted by the US in the September 11, 2001 air attacks on the Pentagon and New York City's landmark World Trade Centre towers which killed 3,000 Americans and other nationals. Zawahiri had been on the run for over two decades.

The President recalled that Zawahiri was the mastermind of several other terrorist attacks including the suicide bombing of the USS Cole naval destroyer in Aden in October 2000 in which 17 US soldiers were killed.

Biden said that he hoped Zawahiri's death would bring "closure" to families of the 3,000 people killed in the 9/11 attacks.

“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. We shall never waver from defending our nation and its people,” Biden said in his address to the nation on Monday evening (US time).

Zawahiri joined jihad in Egypt early in life

In reaction to the killing, the Taliban said the US operation was in violation of international principles. In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that a strike took place on Sunday in Kabul.

Zawahiri an eye surgeon, in his early life joined Islamic terror activities in Egypt. He was arrested at the age of 15 for joining the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. He was an accused in the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat. He was also behind the massacre of foreign tourists at Luxor in 1997. Later he became an ideological strategist of the Al Qaeda and Bin Laden's personal doctor as well. He is said to have planned the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US. He was one of five signatories to Bin Laden's 1998 fatwa calling for attacks against Americans.

Later Al Qaeda took on a low profile and the Islamic State group began leading the jihadist movement.

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