/ 03 August 2022

Another bad guy gone

Image source: Twitter
Image source: Twitter

Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of militant group al-Qaeda, was killed in an American drone attack on Sunday. Yesterday, US President Joe Biden confirmed that the man considered the world’s most wanted terrorist was killed in a counter-terrorism operation carried out by the CIA in the Afghan capital of Kabul. Officials said the 71yo was on the balcony of a safe house when the drone fired 2 missiles – family members were present, but they were unharmed.

He was an Egyptian eye surgeon who had a comfortable upbringing in Cairo. He was also a devout Muslim and was radicalised young. Zawahiri went to Afghanistan in 1980 – like Osama bin Laden, he relished the opportunity to help Islamic fighters battling Soviet forces. The pair met there, and Zawahri – who had founded his own militant group in Egypt after Islamists like him were put in prison and tortured after the assassination of President Anwar Sadat – was present when bin Laden founded al-Qaeda in 1988. Experts say Zawahiri was instrumental to the terror organisation’s deadly operations – his organisational skills and experience helped to keep the outfit in business after they went on the run after the 9/11 terror attacks on the US and after bin Laden’s death in 2011. Yesterday, Biden said Zawahiri had “carved a trail of murder and violence” during his life, and “justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more.”

Yep, we know what you’re going to ask… Did the Taliban know he was there, and were they helping him? The US says the answer is yes. The house where he was killed is owned by a top adviser to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the first deputy leader of the Taliban government in Afghanistan. And yes, under the 2020 peace deal with the US, the Taliban said they wouldn’t allow al-Qaeda or any other extremist group to operate in areas under their control. The fact is that the Taliban and al-Qaeda are long-time allies – so Zawahiri’s killing also confirms the West’s worst fears about the Taliban’s return to power. For the Taliban’s part, they say the drone attack is “a repetition of the failed experiences of the past 20 years and are against the interests of the United States of America, Afghanistan and the region,” the spokesman added. The families of the thousands of people who died because of Zawahiri might disagree…

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