US has killed the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a drone strike in Afghanistan.
Gatekeepers reports that President Joe Biden confirmed that Zawahiri was killed in a counter-terrorism operation carried out by the CIA in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday.
Biden said Zawahiri had “carved a trail of murder and violence against American citizens”.
“Now justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more,” the US President added.
Zawahiri took over al-Qaeda after the death of Osama Bin Laden in 2011. He and Bin Laden plotted the 9/11 attacks together and he was one of the US’ “most wanted terrorists”.
Officials further confirmed Zawahiri was on the balcony of a safe house when the drone fired two missiles at him.
They are added that other family members who were present were unharmed, adding that only Zawahiri was killed in the attack.
Biden said he had given the final approval for the “precision strike” on the 71-year-old al-Qaeda leader after months of planning.
The US President added that his killing will bring closure to families of the nearly 3,000 victims of the 2001 attacks.
“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,” said Biden, adding that “we shall never waver from defending our nation and its people”.
Biden noted that Zawahiri had also masterminded other acts of violence, including the suicide bombing of the USS Cole naval destroyer in Aden in October 2000 which killed 17 US sailors, and the 1998 attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in which 223 people died.
The US President insisted that Afghanistan would never again become a safe haven for terrorists.
Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman described the US operation as a clear violation of international principles – but did not mention Zawahiri.
“Such actions are a repetition of the failed experiences of the past 20 years and are against the interests of the United States of America, Afghanistan and the region,” the spokesman added.
However, US officials maintained that the operation had a legal basis.