what is known about the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda who was killed in a US airstrike in Afghanistan

“Justice has been served.” Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed overnight from Saturday to Sunday in Afghanistan by a US drone strike, US President Joe Biden announced on Monday August 1 in a speech on television. “On Saturday, on my orders, the United States carried out an airstrike in Kabul, Afghanistan, which killed the emir of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri”, did he declare.

The announcement of his death comes almost a year after the chaotic withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, which allowed the Taliban to regain control of the country, twenty years ago. In August 2020, the Al-Qaeda group lost its number 2, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, killed in the streets of Tehran (Iran) by Israeli agents during a secret mission sponsored by Washington, information revealed at the time of New York Times (in English). Franceinfo summarizes what we know about the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri.

He was shot on his balcony by an American drone

The 71-year-old former number 1 of Al-Qaeda was struck very early Sunday, July 31, by an American drone, while he was on the balcony of his home in Kabul, Afghanistan. Around the house, where he lives with his wife, daughter and grandchildren, there were few signs of a strike and no explosion occurred.

The drone attack was carried out using two Hellfire missiles and there was no American military presence on the ground, said an American official quoted by AFP. Ayman al-Zawahiri was found “back and forth and for a long time on the balcony where he finally hit” by striking the capital of Afghanistan, he added.

The operation did not “no civilian casualties”said Joe Biden during his speech. “No matter how long, no matter where you hide, if you pose a threat to our people, the United States will find you and eliminate you”hammered by the American president.

He was one of the two masterminds behind the 9/11 attacks.

Born in 1951 in a bourgeois family, near Cairo (Egypt), Ayman al-Zawahiri, easily recognizable by his forehead bump and his big glasses, joined the Muslim Brotherhood at the age of 15. . Involved in the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anouar el-Sadat, he was imprisoned for three years before joining Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in the mid-1980s, where he treated jihadists fighting the Soviet and met former terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden.

It was only at the end of the 1990s that he joined Al-Qaeda, becoming the right hand of Osama bin Laden, before he replaced him at the head of the terrorist organization in 2011, when the latter was killed by an American commando. in Pakistan.

In this undated photo, Ayman al-Zawahiri (left), former al-Qaeda No.  1, sitting next to Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.  (AP/SIP/AP)

Ayman al-Zawahiri is considered one of the masterminds of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon headquarters near Washington, which left nearly 3,000 dead. you are dead in the United States. – United. His death will bring relief to the families of the victims “to turn the page”said the Democratic president during his speech.

Inheriting an organization weakened after the death of Osama Bin Laden in 2011, Ayman al-Zawahiri had to multiply the franchises of Al-Qaeda, from the Arabian Peninsula to the Maghreb, from Somalia to Afghanistan, Syria and in Iraq. “Zawahiri’s greatest achievement is keeping al-Qaeda alive”analyzed Barak Mendelsohn, professor at Haverford University in Pennsylvania, quoted by AFP.

He was located with his family in Kabul a few months ago

not found for more than ten years, Ayman al-Zawahiri is one of the most wanted terrorists in the world and the United States has promised 25 million dollars for any information that allows to flush him. VSIt was only a few months ago that American intelligence became aware of his location, details an American official quoted by AP (in English). The Al-Qaeda leader has been holed up in a house that serves as a hideout in the Afghan capital, along with his wife, daughter and grandchildren.

An intelligence mission was organized at the highest level of the American administration for months to find out his way of life, to study the structure of the house and the risks of an operation for civilians. During this preparation, in May and June, only a few American officers were kept in trust.

On July 1, an operation plan was presented to Joe Biden in the “Situation Room”, an ultra-secure room in the White House where, according to a photo that became famous, Barack Obama followed the attack on Bin Laden live in 2011 with, by his side, Joe Biden, then vice-president. A model of the house was presented to the president. Finally on July 25, when Joe Biden, positive for Covid-19, was put under isolation, that he “allowed[é] a precise and coordinated air strike” of the terrorist leader, reported a senior American official quoted by AFP.

The United States denounced a violation of the agreements with the Taliban

Ayman al-Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul is also one “clear violation” The agreements concluded in Doha in 2020 are with the Taliban, who intend not to welcome Al-Qaeda on their soil, said the senior American official quoted by AFP. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken added on Monday evening (in English) whatever “home and shelter” the terrorist leader, the Taliban has “serious violation of the Doha agreement” which provides for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.

In their press release, the Afghan Islamists also accused the United States of undermining these agreements, by conducting strikes in their territory. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahif said on Twitter that Condemned by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan[ait] it’s a strong attack”who called this strike a “clear violation of the principles of the international agreement of Doha”.

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