The United States on Saturday in a drone strike killed al Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, President Joe Biden said Monday in a speech from the White House.
“I authorized a precision strike that would remove him from the battlefield, once and for all,” CNN quoted Biden as saying.
Al-Zawahiri, who just turned 71 years old, was a close ally and personal physician of Osama bin Laden.
According to Biden, Al-Zawahiri “was deeply involved in the planning of 9/11, one of the most responsible for the attacks that murdered 2,977 people on American soil. For decades, he was the mastermind of attacks against Americans.”
“Now, justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more. People around the world no longer need to fear the vicious and determined killer,” he added.
The American leader noted that the US will continue to protect its citizens from harm and will take out whoever poses a threat to it (US) regardless of how long it takes.
Al-Zawahiri execution comes 11 years after the US killed Osama bin Laden.
He was in downtown Kabul where he was reuniting with his family and was killed in what a senior administration official described as “a precise tailored airstrike” using two Hellfire missiles.
The Saturday drone strike was conducted at 9:48 p.m. ET following r Biden’s authorisation after weeks of meetings with his cabinet and key advisers.
No American personnel were on the ground in Kabul at the time of the strike, an official said.
Mr Biden had last year ordered the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan thereby allowing the Taliban to take over the war-torn state.
According to CNN, an official said senior Haqqani Taliban figures were aware of Mr Al-Zawahiri presence in the area, in “clear violation of the Doha agreement,” and even took steps to conceal his presence after Saturday’s strike, restricting access to the safe house and rapidly relocating members of his family, including his daughter and her children, who were intentionally not targeted during the strike and remained unharmed.
The US did not alert Taliban officials ahead of Saturday’s strike.
The killing of Al-Zawahiri has been praised by former US President Barack Obama.
“More than 20 years after 9/11, one of the masterminds of that terrorist attack and Osama bin Laden’s successor as the leader of al-Qaeda – Ayman al-Zawahiri – has finally been brought to justice,” Obama wrote on Twitter.
“It’s a tribute to President Biden’s leadership, to the members of the intelligence community who have been working for decades for this moment, and to the counterterrorism professionals who were able to take al-Zawahiri out without a single civilian casualty.
“Tonight’s news is also proof that it’s possible to root out terrorism without being at war in Afghanistan. And I hope it provides a small measure of peace to the 9/11 families and everyone else who has suffered at the hands of al-Qaeda.”