US intel situated Zawahiri after he moved from Pakistan to Taliban-supported protected home in Kabul: US media

WASHINGTON: US intelligence situated reclusive al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri earlier this yr in Afghanistan after he moved from Pakistan to a Taliban-supported protected home in a complicated locality in downtown Kabul, the US media reported on Tuesday.
US President Joe Biden on Monday introduced that Zawahiri, who assumed the management of al-Qaeda after the dying of Osama bin Laden, was killed in a CIA drone strike on Saturday at a home in Kabul the place he was sheltering to reunite along with his household, declaring that “justice has been delivered and this terrorist isn’t any extra”.
The 71-year-old Egyptian surgeon, who had a USD 25 million bounty on his head, was bin Laden’s second-in-command throughout 9/11 assaults and took over as the pinnacle of al-Qaeda after his dying. He remained a visual worldwide image of the fear group, 11 years after the US killed bin Laden throughout a raid in Pakistan’s Abbottabad in 2011.
After relentlessly looking for Zawahiri for years, the US intelligence group situated him earlier this yr.
US intelligence officers had decided that Zawahiri had moved from Pakistan to a Taliban-supported protected home in downtown Kabul. Zawahiri’s spouse and kids had relocated there first, officers mentioned. As US intelligence officers monitored them, they realized Zawahiri had joined his household, NBC Information reported.
As soon as Zawahiri arrived on the protected home he by no means left, in accordance with a senior administration official who briefed reporters Monday on the operation.
Zawahiri was lengthy believed to have been residing in Pakistan. That he was killed in Kabul is a testomony to not solely the porous border between the 2 nations but additionally to al-Qaeda’s decades-long use of services, homes, buildings and compounds all through each nations, The New York Instances quoted an official as saying.
And in contrast to the comparatively sleepy metropolis of Abbottabad, Pakistan, the place bin Laden was killed by a commando raid in 2011, his successor apparently spent the final weeks of his life proper smack within the Afghan capital, the report mentioned.
US authorities spent months figuring out a “sample of life,” monitoring his each day habits to keep away from civilian casualties, the report mentioned.
Intelligence officers created a mannequin of Zawahiri’s protected home and used it to transient Biden on the chance to civilians, the senior administration official added. They tried to reduce threat to civilians by not threatening the integrity of the construction in the course of the deliberate strike.
Requested whether or not Biden would have tolerated even just a few civilian casualties, an administration official mentioned there was no purpose to count on any. The strike was so exact that it killed Zawahiri on a balcony with out harming relations elsewhere in the home, the official mentioned.
Biden was proven the mannequin of the protected home throughout a State of affairs Room assembly on July 1 that included CIA Director William Burns, Director of Nationwide Intelligence Avril Haines, and Christine Abizaid, the director of the Nationwide Counterterrorism Heart.
On July 25, Biden convened related Cupboard officers and aides. He was briefed on a possible operation by this broader group of nationwide safety officers within the State of affairs Room. On the finish of the assembly, Biden authorised the airstrike to focus on Zawahiri.
His sign-off allowed intelligence officers to take out al Zawahiri after they decided the time was optimum.
Zawahiri was killed in a drone strike at 6:18 a.m. native time Saturday, July 30. Two Hellfire missiles have been fired at him whereas he was on the balcony of the protected home, the official mentioned, including that no civilians or relations of Zawahiri have been killed within the assault.
The Haqqani faction of the Taliban whisked the household away after the assault, the official mentioned.
Zawahiri’s killing “raised speedy questions” concerning the terrorist chief’s presence in Afghanistan a yr after Biden withdrew American forces from the war-torn nation, “clearing the way in which for the Taliban to recapture management of the nation,” the New York Instances reported.
Zawahiri moved again to Afghanistan earlier this yr, evidently believing he can be protected there, the NYT quoted officers as saying.
Nonetheless, the NYT report quoted an American official as saying that Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul was a “clear violation” of the settlement over the American withdrawal from Afghanistan by former President Donald Trump and later accepted by Biden that the Taliban wouldn’t present protected haven for al-Qaeda to launch additional assaults towards People.
The NYT mentioned it was not evident if Biden would take any motion towards the Taliban resulting from Zawahiri being situated and killed in Kabul regardless of what the Taliban had dedicated to.
Former president Donald Trump’s envoy who negotiated the unique withdrawal settlement Zalmay Khalilzad referred to as the strike a validation of the rationale for pulling out.
“On this case, over the horizon labored,” he mentioned. He referred to as the strike proof that “we are able to defend our curiosity towards terror threats in Afghanistan with out a big and costly navy presence there.”

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