WATCH: Biden delivers remarks after alleged killing of al-Qaeda leader al-Zawahri

President Joe Biden confirmed on Monday that a US drone strike in Afghanistan over the weekend killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, saying “justice has been served.”

Watch Biden’s remarks in the player above.

“That terrorist leader is no more,” Biden said in an evening speech from the White House.

Biden said US intelligence officials tracked al-Zawahri to a house in downtown Kabul where he was hiding with his family. The president approved the operation last week and it was carried out on Sunday.

The killing marked a major victory against terrorism just 11 months after US troops left the country after a two-decade war.

The strike, carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency, was confirmed by five people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity before Biden was tasked with briefing the American people on the details of the operation in an address by 7:30 p.m. EDT. to the nation.

The loss of Al-Zawahri eliminates the figure who more than anyone has shaped al-Qaeda, first as Osama bin Laden’s deputy since 1998, then as his successor. Together, he and bin Laden diverted the weapons of the jihadist movement to target the United States, carrying out the deadliest attack ever on American soil – the suicide bombings of September 11, 2001.

LOOK: Biden delivers remarks after alleged killing of al-Qaeda leader al-Zawahri

Current and former officials began hearing Sunday afternoon that al-Zawahri had been killed in a drone strike, but the administration delayed releasing the information until his death could be confirmed, according to one person.

The house al-Zawahri was in when he was killed belonged to a senior Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, according to a senior intelligence official. The official also added that a CIA ground team and aerial reconnaissance conducted after the drone attack confirmed al-Zawahri’s death. Planning for the operation began six months ago but has intensified in the past two months, the official said.

During the 20-year war in Afghanistan, the United States targeted and divided al-Qaeda, sending leaders into hiding. But the US exit from Afghanistan last September gave the extremist group the opportunity to rebuild. US military officials, including Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said al-Qaeda was trying to reconstitute itself in Afghanistan, where it faced limited threats from the Taliban now in power. power. Military leaders have warned that the group still aspires to attack the United States

The 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon made bin Laden America’s number one enemy. But he probably wouldn’t have been able to do it without his deputy. Bin Laden provided al-Qaeda with charisma and money, but al-Zawahri brought the tactics and organizational skills needed to forge militants into a network of cells in countries around the world.

Their bond was forged in the late 1980s, when al-Zawahri reportedly treated Saudi millionaire bin Laden in caves in Afghanistan as Soviet bombardment shook the mountains around them.

Zawahri, on the FBI’s most wanted terrorists list, had a $25 million bounty on his head for any information that could be used to kill or capture him.

Biden spoke from the White House’s Blue Room balcony as he remains isolated in the residence as he continues to test positive for COVID-19.


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