A U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan killed the top Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, President Joe Biden announced, The New York Times reported.
Biden announced he ordered a strike on a Kabul safe house during a high-level meeting, which resulted in the death of the terrorist group’s top leader.
Zawahiri was the deputy and successor of Osama bin Laden. It ends a 21-year-manhunt for the terrorist leader, who was instrumental in the September 11 attacks.
Biden described the death of Zawahiri as a major blow to the terrorist network behind the September 11, 2001 attacks.
“Justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more,” Biden said in a live address from the White House.
“People around the world no longer need to fear the vicious and determined killer,” Biden said.
Zawahri was one of the most wanted people in the world and a world-feared terrorist. It is seen as a huge victory for the Biden administration.
The CIA strike is seen as the U.S.’s ability to conduct “over-the-horizon” operations, even though there was a military withdrawal from Afghanistan last year.
It also raised questions about the terrorist leader’s presence in Afghanistan one year after the U.S. withdrew its forces, clearing the way for the Taliban to take back control.
Zawahri was killed by the CIA in an early-morning drone strike over the weekend in Kabul. The house was in the Sherpur area, which is a wealthy downtown neighborhood that once housed dozens of Western embassies, and is now home to high-ranking Taliban officials.
The operation has been in motion for months. American intelligence agencies located the safe house earlier in the year after sources learned that his family had moved there. The C.I.A. Then tracked Zawahri’s movements until they received authorization for a strike. He was targeted with two Hellfire missiles.
No one else was killed in the attack, officials said, including any members of his family or nearby civilians.
Zawahri was 71, and emerged as a master of terrorism as a teenager. He was widely considered the architect of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Counterterrorism experts considered Zawahri to be the intellectual spine of Al Qaeda.
The death of Zawahri comes 11 years after bin Laden was killed in a raid by a U.S. Navy SEAL team in Pakistan.