Washington.- “Justice was done.” The world will no longer have to fear this “ruthless and constant killer”. This is how President Joe Biden yesterday described the US operation that killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
In a televised appearance from the balcony of the Blue Room of the White House, Biden, who remains isolated after testing positive for Covid-19 again, assured that the death of Al-Zawahiri – an Egyptian ophthalmologist who assumed the leadership of the network terrorist after the death, also at the hands of the United States, of Osama bin Laden – is a message to “all those around the world who want to harm the United States: no matter where you hide, we will find you.”
Al-Zawahiri was assassinated on Sunday morning in Kabul, at 06:18 local time, when he was on the balcony of the residence where he was staying; a drone fired two Hellfire missiles at him. According to the White House, only the Al-Qaeda leader was killed in the operation, and there was no collateral damage.
The mission, according to some versions, was headed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and not the Pentagon. The announcement of Al-Zawahiri’s death was far from when Bin Laden’s death was reported, on May 2, 2011 in the government of Barack Obama, with Biden as vice president. The operation against Al-Zawahiri was carried out a few weeks after the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan, where the Egyptian returned with his family at the beginning of the year from Pakistan. The White House insisted that the septuagenarian still constituted a threat to the United States, despite the decimation of Al-Qaeda with the death of Bin Laden and the rise of other radical organizations, such as the Islamic State.
For the United States, the presence of Al-Zawahiri constituted a “clear violation” of the agreements reached with the Taliban in Doha – the capital of Qatar – in 2020, which included not harboring terrorists in its territory.
Born in Egypt in 1951, Al-Zawahiri was a doctor who was described as shy by his fellow students, but who became one of the most wanted terrorists in the world as the leader of the Al-Qaeda network after the death of Bin Laden. , whom he met in 1985 in Peshawar, and whom he supported in the fight against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. From that time dates the foundation of Al-Qaeda.
For many, Al-Zawahiri was the real mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Biden alluded to the blackest day in the country’s history and said he hoped that Al-Zawahiri’s death would help the relatives of the almost 3,000 victims of the attacks to “turn the page” in that painful chapter.
One of the last times that Al-Zawahiri appeared in a video before his death was in a recording released by the terrorist organization on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of 9/11. In it, he spoke on a wide variety of topics, especially the Palestinian cause.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had him on its most wanted list and was offering $25 million for information leading to his arrest.
With Al-Zawahiri at the helm, Al-Qaeda was reduced to a network with many branches but no central leadership, weakened by the loss of commanders and the Egyptian’s alleged poor health. Among the actions that are imputed to him are the 1998 attacks against the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. He was one of the signatories of the fatwa, a religious edict that ordered to attack the interests of the United States, whose citizens he described as “enemies of Islam.”
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