Al Qaeda leader Zawahiri killed in CIA drone strike in Afghanistan, U.S. officials say

A photo of al-Qaeda leader Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri is seen in this still image from a video released September 12, 2011. REUTERS/SITE Monitoring Service via Reuters/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, Aug 1 (Reuters) – Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a CIA drone strike in Afghanistan, U.S. officials told Reuters on Monday, the biggest blow brought to the militant group since the death of its founder Osama bin Laden in 2011. .

Zawahiri, an Egyptian doctor and surgeon, helped coordinate the September 11, 2001 attacks, in which four civilian planes were hijacked and rammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon near Washington and a field of Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 people. people.

One of the US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a drone strike was carried out by the CIA on Sunday in the Afghan capital Kabul.

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“Over the weekend, the United States conducted a counterterrorism operation against a key al-Qaeda target in Afghanistan,” a senior administration official said.

“The operation was a success and there were no civilian casualties,” the official added.

If confirmed, his death in a CIA drone strike raises questions about whether he was given refuge by the Taliban after their takeover of Kabul in August 2021 as the last troops led by the United States was leaving Afghanistan after 20 years of war.

In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that a strike had taken place and strongly condemned it, calling it a violation of “international principles”.

US President Joe Biden will deliver a speech at 7:30 p.m. (2330 GMT) on Monday on what the White House called a “successful counterterrorism operation”. Read more

A loud explosion sounded in Kabul early Sunday morning.

“A house was hit by a rocket in Sherpoor. There were no casualties as the house was empty,” Abdul Nafi Takor, spokesman for the interior ministry, said earlier.

A Taliban source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at least one drone reportedly flew over Kabul that morning.

Along with other senior al-Qaeda figures, Zawahiri allegedly plotted the Oct. 12, 2000 attack on the Navy ship USS Cole in Yemen that killed 17 U.S. sailors and injured more than 30 others, according to the website. Rewards for Justice.

He was indicted in the United States for his role in the August 7, 1998 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that left 224 dead and more than 5,000 injured.

Bin Laden and Zawahiri had both eluded capture when US-led forces overthrew the Afghan Taliban government in late 2001 following the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Bin Laden was killed in 2011 by US forces in Pakistan.

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Reporting by Idrees Ali; Additional reporting by Jonathan Landay and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Leslie Adler and Grant McCool

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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