Tue, 02 Aug 2022 11:20 AM IST
Al-Qaeda chief and the key strategist behind the 9/11 attack, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was killed on Sunday in a drone strike by the United States (US), President Joe Biden confirmed on Monday.
"...At my direction, the United States successfully concluded an air strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, and killed Al-Qaeda Amir Ayman al-Zawahiri," Biden said in a media briefing.
The culmination of Zawahiri's terror plotting came on September 11, 2001, when nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center and Pentagon. A fourth hijacked airliner, headed for Washington, crashed in a Pennsylvania field after passengers fought back.
According to CNN, before and after the September 11 attacks, Zawahiri appeared on numerous videos and audiotapes calling for attacks against western targets and urging Muslims to support his cause.
Zawahiri's origins in Islamist militancy went back decades. The first time the world heard of him was when he stood in a courtroom cage after the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat in 1981.
A trained surgeon - one of his pseudonyms was The Doctor - Zawahiri went to Pakistan on his release where he worked with the Red Crescent treating Islamist mujahideen guerrillas wounded in Afghanistan fighting Soviet forces. During this period, he became acquainted with Osama bin Laden.
In 1993, he took over the leadership of Islamic Jihad in Egypt and became a leading figure in a campaign in the mid-1990s to overthrow the government and set up a purist Islamic state claiming the lives of more than 1,200 Egyptians.
He was indicted for his alleged role in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The FBI put a $25 million bounty on his head on its most wanted list.
Meanwhile, reports surpassed on Monday that the US killed Zawahiri in Afghanistan in a drone strike. Following this, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid confirmed the strike and said, "An air strike was carried out on a residential house in Sherpur area of Kabul city on July 31."
Mujahid said the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan "strongly condemns this attack on any pretext and calls it a clear violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement."
The US State Department had offered a reward of up to USD 25 million for information leading directly to Zawahiri's capture.
(With agency inputs)