Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a CIA drone strike in Afghanistan, U.S. officials told Reuters on Tuesday in the biggest blow to the militant group since founder Osama was killed in 2011. Bin Laden.
Zawahiri, an Egyptian physician and surgeon, helped coordinate the September 11, 2001 attacks in which four civilian planes were hijacked and crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon near Washington, and a field in Pennsylvania, killing about 3000 people. .
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the CIA conducted a drone strike on the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday local time.
“Over the weekend, the United States carried out a counterterrorism operation against a high-profile al-Qaeda target in Afghanistan,” a senior administration official said.
“The operation was successful, there were no civilian casualties,” the official added.
If Zawahiri’s death in a CIA drone strike is confirmed, questions are raised about whether he was given safe haven by the Taliban after the August 2021 capture of Kabul, when the last US-led troops left Afghanistan after 20 years of war.
In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that the strike had taken place and strongly condemned it, calling it a violation of “international principles.”
Early on Sunday morning, a loud explosion rocked Kabul.
“A missile hit a house in Sherpur. There were no casualties, as the house was empty,” Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor said earlier.
A Taliban source who asked not to be named said that there were reports that morning that at least one drone had flown over Kabul.
Together with other high-ranking members of al-Qaeda, Zawahiri is believed to have planned the October 12, 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, which killed 17 US sailors and injured more than 30, according to the web site. Rewards for Justice website.
In the United States, he was charged with involvement in the August 7, 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people and injured more than 5,000 people.
Both bin Laden and Zawahiri escaped arrest when, in late 2001, US-led forces overthrew the Taliban government in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
Bin Laden was killed in 2011 by US forces in Pakistan.
US President Joe Biden will deliver a statement at 9:30 am EST in what the White House has described as a “successful counterterrorism operation.”