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The death of al-Qaeda leader Zawahri and the questions that need answers


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President Joe Biden gave a rare prime-time speech Monday night to announce that the CIA, on his orders, carried out a drone strike that killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri. Zawahri is a longtime radical Islamist leader who succeeded Osama bin Laden as head of al-Qaeda in 2011 and orchestrated the deadly terrorist attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

This drone strike could validate President Biden’s plan to target terrorists in Afghanistan with “over the horizon” strikes, which many experts have questioned. Furthermore, the administration claims that no civilians were killed in the attack.

If all of this is true, President Biden deserves credit for a major national security victory.

But I have questions about this strike.

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The timing of this attack, which comes a year after Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan and three months before November’s midterm elections, is incredibly fortuitous. Further, given the tendency of this President and his top officials to make national security statements that have proven too implausible or inaccurate and then must be rescinded, I want Congress to fully investigate this attack.

For example, why did this strike take place now? Without a Western press on the ground, how can the American people know exactly what happened? Can we verify that the US did in fact obtain Zawahri and that there were no civilian casualties?

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Another question is whether killing Zawahri, who was 71 and in poor health, will make a difference in protecting the United States from terrorist attacks since it was planned to name a successor to Zawahri before he was killed. be killed.

FILE — A screen grab from a videotape aired August 05, 2006 on the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television channel shows Al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman Al-Zawahiri at a location and time not disclosed.
(AFP via Getty Images)

A bigger question is whether President Biden’s decision to eliminate Zawahri means his administration will finally recognize radical Islamist terrorism as a high-priority national security issue instead of several trivial issues he has highlighted in his policy of national security such as climate change.

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After President Trump’s leadership hands ISIS massive defeats in Iraq and Syria, the loss of its caliphate on the ground, the terror organization returns to the Middle East and establishes a major presence in Afghanistan and Africa.

ISIS is the predominant terrorist organization in the world, significantly larger and more influential than its predecessor, Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda, however, remains a dangerous organization and is also experiencing a resurgence in Afghanistan and Africa.

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History shows that whenever terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda or ISIS establish strongholds, they will eventually use them as launching pads to expand their insurgency to other regions, often with major acts of terrorism. There is a high probability that this will happen again.

Let’s hope President Biden’s decision to eliminate Ayman al-Zawahri signals that he and his top officials recognize this and that the drone strike that killed him was not done primarily to score political points.

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