WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said Monday night that the US carried out a drone strike that killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan, a revelation that is expected to undermine terrorist group operations.
Biden said of the pre-dawn precision attack that killed al-Zawahiri: “He left a trail of murder and violence against American citizens, American service members, American diplomats and American interests. .
“We made it clear again tonight that 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 get you out.” , Biden added.
The two people briefed on the attack confirmed to NBC News that the attack that killed al-Zawahiri was carried out by the CIA.
A senior Biden administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to share details of the attack, said US intelligence analysts had located al-Zawahiri earlier this year.
The official said the US had tracked al-Zawahiri’s movements for months and determined that he was living in a safe house in Kabul with his family.
“We identified al-Zawahiri several times over a continuous period on the balcony where he was eventually attacked,” the official said.
“Al-Zawahiri’s family members were in other areas of the safe house at the time of the strike and were intentionally untargeted and unarmed. We have no indications. shows civilians harmed in this strike,” the official added.
The official said Biden received final intelligence on the matter on July 25 before approving the attack that involved a drone and two Hellfire missiles.
Al-Zawahiri, 71, a doctor and founder of Egypt’s Islamic Jihad before rising to the top of the al-Qaeda network, was one of the architects behind the terrorist attack. announced September 11 at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
In the weeks that followed the September 11 attacks, the Taliban provided shelter to al-Qaeda while the United States mobilized for its longest war.
Al-Zawahiri succeeded Osama bin Laden as head of al-Qaeda in 2011.
Al-Zawahiri was previously indicted by the US government for allegedly playing a role in the 1998 bombings of the US Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya.
The State Department had previously offered a reward of up to $25 million for information that led to his apprehension.
Sunday’s drone strike was the CIA’s first known counterterrorism operation since Kabul fell to the Taliban last year. The senior administration official said that the US did not coordinate the attack or give notice to the Taliban.