CIA Kills Al-Qaida Leader And Number Two Behind The September 11th Attacks

Taliban Holding A Gun

The president said in an evening address that the CIA carried out a strike on an al-Zawahri family home in downtown Kabul, killing him and making sure that Afghanistan would never again be a terrorist safe haven.

Al-Zawahri’s death eliminates the figure who, more than anyone, shaped al-Qaida and who, together with bin Laden carried out the deadliest attack ever on American soil – the Sept. 11 suicide hijackings that crashed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

A senior administration official said “zero” U.S. personnel were in Kabul and that al-Qaida was trying to reconstitute after the U.S. left Afghanistan last September.

After his killing, the White House said al-Zawahri had continued to provide strategic direction to al-Qaida and urged attacks on the U.S.

U.S. intelligence officials learned al-Zawahri’s wife, daughter, and children had relocated to a safe house in Kabul and later learned al-Zawahri himself was at the safe house. The Taliban government was given no forewarning of the operation.

Only a small group of officials at critical agencies and Vice President Kamala Harris were brought into the process of finding and killing al-Zawahri. Biden gave his final approval for the operation on Thursday.

Al-Zawahri played an enormous role in the terror group’s operations and had a $25 million bounty on his head.

Al-Zawahiri and bin Laden plotted the 9/11 attacks, and photos from the time often showed the glasses-wearing, mild-looking Egyptian doctor sitting by the side of bin Laden.

Al-Qaida’s leader in Afghanistan rebuilt the organization’s leadership after the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and installed allies as lieutenants in critical positions. He also reshaped the organization into a franchise chain with branches in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, North Africa, Somalia, Yemen, and Asia.

Al-Zawahri tried to coopt the Arab Spring by urging Islamic hard-liners to take over in the nations where leaders had fallen. But these Islamists have stark ideological differences with al-Qaida and reject its agenda and leadership.

Al-Zawahri was a more divisive figure than bin Laden, who was soft-spoken and almost spiritual. He picked ideological fights with critics within the jihadi camp, wagging his finger scoldingly in his videos.

Al-Zawahri was still alive when a video of him praising an Indian Muslim woman surfaced in April.

Afghanistan’s Taliban government confirmed the airstrike but did not mention al-Zawahri or other casualties. It said the attack violated international principles and the Doha Agreement.

For more on this story, please consider these sources:

  1. U.S. kills Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri in drone strike: Sources  POLITICO
  2. Successful counterterrorism operation: Ayman Al Zawahiri killed in U.S. drone strike | LiveNOW from  LiveNOW from FOX
  3. US kills al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in drone strike in Afghanistan  CNN
  4. US takes out Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri in ‘successful’ Afghanistan counterterrorism operation  Fox News
  5. Biden to announce operation against al-Qaida target Ayman al-Zawahri  USA TODAY


John Nightbridge is a veteran reporter, researcher, and economic policy major from UCLA. Passionate about world issues and potential ways to solve them is a significant focus of his work. Writing freelance and reading the news are John's passions at work. Outside of work, it's all about sky diving, surfing, and stock market modeling.