U.S. drone strike kills Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan
President Joe Biden announced that a U.S. counterterrorism operation over the weekend in Afghanistan killed top Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden announced Monday night that a U.S. counterterrorism operation over the weekend in Afghanistan killed top Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, one of the plotters behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“Justice has been delivered. And this terrorist leader is no more,” Biden said in a rare evening address from the White House. “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.”
Two people briefed on the matter told NBC News it was a CIA drone strike that killed al-Zawahiri.
Al-Zawahiri was second in command to Osama bin Laden during the 9/11 attacks and took over as Al Qaeda leader in 2011 after U.S. forces killed bin Laden in Pakistan. In that role, al-Zawahiri continued to call for attacks against the U.S. and its allies.
In 2001, al-Zawahiri escaped U.S. forces when they invaded Afghanistan and toppled the previous Taliban government, which had refused to hand over bin Laden in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Al-Zawahiri's whereabouts were long unknown.
But U.S. intelligence located al-Zawahiri earlier this year, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters Monday on the operation.