U.S. kills top al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri

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Ayman Al-Zawahiri

Top al-Qaida leader was killed by a drone strike carried out by the U.S. on July 30, according to President Joe Biden.

“For decades he was the mastermind behind attacks against Americans,” Biden said on Aug. 1, also noting the 2000 USS Cole attack and the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

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Biden detailed al-Zawahiri’s role leading al-Qaida since Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in 2011, including calling on followers in recent weeks to attack the U.S. and allies in videos.

“We make it clear again tonight that, that no matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out,” Biden said.

Biden said that no one else was hurt in the strike, including al-Zawahiri’s family, who were elsewhere in a safehouse, and there were no civilian casualties.

“And to those around the world who continue to seek to harm the United States, hear me now: We will always remain vigilant and we will act and we will always do what is necessary to ensure the safety and security of Americans at home and around the globe,” Biden said.

An administration official who briefed reporters ahead of Biden’s remarks said al-Zawahiri was an active threat to U.S. national security and that his death is a “hugely significant blow” to al-Qaida. AP

Here are 5 facts about Zawahiri: 

  • Zawahiri grew up in a comfortable household in Cairo. He became involved with Egypt’s radical Islamist community at a young age and was reportedly arrested at 15 for joining the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
  • He was jailed for three years in Egypt for militancy and implicated in the 1981 assassination of president Anwar Sadat and the massacre of foreign tourists at Luxor in 1997. He then linked up with bin Laden in Afghanistan, becoming Al-Qaeda’s main strategist and serving as bin Laden’s personal doctor.
  • He was one of five signatories to bin Laden’s 1998 “fatwa” calling for attacks against Americans. Like bin Laden, he vanished after the September 11, 2001 attacks, surviving repeated attempts on his life and re-emerging after reports that he had already died.
  • But he stayed in US sights, with a $25 million bounty on his head for the 1998 Africa attacks. Zawahiri took command of Al-Qaeda in 2011 after US Navy SEALs killed bin Laden.
  • But during the decade the 71-year-old presided over the group, it never recovered its prominence, as the aggressive Islamic State group took the lead in the jihadist movement, seizing large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria and declaring a caliphate.

 

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