Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
President Joe Biden confirmed Monday night that United States counterterrorism forces had killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al- Zawahiri in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Zawahiri – who rose to the top of al Qaeda in 2011 following the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of SEAL Team Six – died July 30 when a CIA-operated Air Force drone struck a home where Zawahiri was standing upon a balcony.
“Justice has been delivered, and this terrorist leader is no more,” Biden said during a brief speech, which was shared on Twitter.
I’m addressing the nation on a successful counterterrorism operation. https://t.co/SgTVaszA3s
— President Biden (@POTUS) August 1, 2022
According to a senior administrator, the plan to kill Zawahiri had been planned for months.
“This year, we identified that Zawahiri’s family — his wife, his daughter, and her children — relocated to a safe house in Kabul,” the official said. “We then identified Zawahiri at the location in Kabul through layering multiple streams of intelligence.”
The successful military operation proved popular across the American political spectrum.
“The American military is the world’s most lethal force and will never stop hunting these terrorist killers,” Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) tweeted. “Let this be a lesson to them: if you hurt or threaten Americans, there is nowhere safe to hide.”
The American military is the world’s most lethal force and will never stop hunting these terrorist killers. Let this be a lesson to them: if you hurt or threaten Americans, there is nowhere safe to hide. https://t.co/zDJusu2WeD
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) August 1, 2022
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a member of the Squad and about as far away from Scott as one can get on the political spectrum, concurred.
“Zawahiri was a monster responsible for the deaths of thousands around the world,” Omar tweeted. “The world is a safer place without him.”
Republicans and Democrats found additional common ground around shared anger that, after all these years, Zawahiri was found in Afghanistan.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, like others, expressed satisfaction that Zawahiri was dead, saying in a statement, “The world is a safer place following the death of Zawahiri, and the United States will continue to act resolutely against those who would threaten our country, our people, or our allies and partners.”
However, in the same statement, Blinken lashed out at the Taliban for returning to a pre-2001 status quo, both in terms of social policy and in harboring terrorists.
“By hosting and sheltering [Zawahiri] in Kabul, the Taliban grossly violated the Doha Agreement and repeated assurances to the world that they would not allow Afghan territory to be used by terrorists to threaten the security of other countries,” Blinken said. “They also betrayed the Afghan people and their own stated desire for recognition from and normalization with the international community.”
Rep. Mike Waltz, a former Special Forces officer who has become a Republican Florida congressman, said both on his own website and Fox News that America must keep a close eye on al Qaeda as well as the Taliban.
“Ayman al-Zawahiri has met a deserved justice after decades of orchestrating terrorist attacks against innocent lives,” Waltz said in a statement. “After helping plan the September 11th attacks against our homeland and countless other acts of terror, his days of menacing the world are over.”
Waltz added, “It is notable that Zawahiri felt safe enough to return to Afghanistan after spending decades in hiding. This is also a stark reminder that Al Qaeda is continuing to plot further attacks again our country. The intelligence community has been clear that they fully intend to attack our homeland again. The threat of global terrorism has not gone away. We must remain vigilant against those who continue to wage war against our freedoms and country.”
On Fox News, Waltz expanded on his premise saying, “Number one, what was [Zawahiri] doing in Kabul? And from what I’m hearing from a number of folks, both in Afghanistan and in the intelligence community, he’s been there for some time. So, what did the Taliban promise him? Why did he feel so comfortable to really be out in the open?”
Zawahiri was 71 years old and had been involved in militant, terrorist activity since at least the early 80s. He was implicated, though never convicted, of having played a role in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat in 1981.
A native of Egypt, Zawahiri was a child of wealth and privilege who eventually became qualified as a surgeon. Prior to bin Laden’s death, Zawahiri had served as bin Laden’s primary advisor and personal physician.