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The United States killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri in Afghanistan over the weekend in a successful counterterrorism strike, a senior administration official told Fox News.
President Biden Monday evening at 7:30 p.m. ET is expected to address the nation from the White House on the operation.
“Over the weekend, the United States conducted a counterterrorism operation against a significant al-Qaeda target in Afghanistan,” the senior administration official told Fox News on Monday. “The operation was a success and there were no civilian casualties.”
Two intelligence sources told Fox News that al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri was killed in the CIA drone attack.
BIDEN ADMIN WARNED NOT TO WITHHOLD AFTER ACTION REPORTS ON AFGHANISTAN’S BAD WITHDRAWAL
Former Vice President Dick Cheney told Fox News Digital in reaction to the news of the deal “It’s good we got it, I’ve been out of the company for many years so I wait to learn all the facts.”
Cheney served under former President George W. Bush, whose administration led the global war on terrorism after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The Biden administration closed the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and withdrew all military assets from Afghanistan on August 31, 2021, ending America’s longest war.
President Biden, at the time, defended the withdrawal from Afghanistan by saying that al-Qaeda was gone.
“What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point with Al-Qaeda gone? Biden said Aug. 20, 2021. “We went to Afghanistan for the express purpose of getting rid of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, as well as – as well as getting Osama bin Laden. And we did that.”
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But Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley last September warned lawmakers that terrorist groups like al-Qaeda could grow much faster after the US pulls out of Afghanistan.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at the time that continued US military efforts in Afghanistan would be focused on countering terrorist threats, not the Taliban. Austin said the United States would “keep tabs on” al-Qaeda, the extremist network whose use of Afghanistan as a safe haven to plan the 9/11 attacks on the United States was the reason forces Americans invaded Afghanistan in 2001.
Ayman Al Zawahiri appeared in a video last year commemorating 20 years after the September 11 terrorist attacks despite rumors that he died months earlier.
Al Zawahiri was named Osama bin Laden’s successor in June 2011, a month after the terrorist leader was shot dead by US forces at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
The official Twitter account of the spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban, posted that “an airstrike was carried out on a residential house in the Sherpur district of Kabul city. Nature of the incident was not revealed at first.”
The spokesperson condemned the strike.
“The Islamic Emirate’s security and intelligence agencies investigated the incident and found that the attack was carried out by US drones,” the spokesperson wrote. “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan strongly condemns this attack under any pretext and calls it a flagrant violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement.
The Taliban spokesman added: “Such actions are a repeat of the failed experiments of the past 20 years and run counter to the interests of the United States of America, Afghanistan and the region.
“Repetition of such actions will harm available opportunities,” the spokesperson said.
Fox News’ Andrew Murray and Jon Brown contributed to this report.