Conflicts & War

Taliban probing US claim of killing al-Qaeda leader in drone strike

Kabul, Aug 4 (EFE).- The Taliban government Thursday said they were looking into claims that an American drone attack killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul.

The Islamist administration had remained silent about the killing of al-Zawahri, 71, on Sunday in a drone operation, while the militant leader sat on a balcony of his Kabul safe house.

A Taliban statement said its leadership had no idea when al-Zawahri arrived in Kabul or how long he had been in the Afghan capital.

“The leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has directed that a complete inquiry into the many facets of the incident be conducted,” the statement said.

Zawahiri took over as al-Qaeda commander after Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan by US special forces in 2011.

US President Joe Biden said Zawahiri was “deeply involved in the planning of 9/11” and was a “mastermind” behind attacks against Americans.

“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.

For months, US intelligence had been verifying via various sources that it was actually Zawahiri who lived in that house, which he never left and was only seen when he was on the balcony.

Biden stated that the al-Qaeda leader was located after moving to the Afghan capital with his family early this year and that he remained a threat to US persons, interests, and national security.

The incident was the first known US strike inside Afghanistan since US troops evacuated the country in August last year as the Taliban took over. It is unclear whether the Taliban had provided sanctuary for Zawahiri.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused the Taliban of breaching the pact.

“By hosting and sheltering the leader of al-Qaida in Kabul, the Taliban grossly violated the Doha Agreement and repeated assurances to the world that they would not allow Afghan territory to be used by terrorists to threaten the security of other countries,” he said in a statement.

The Taliban sought to assure the world that there was “no threat to any country, including America, from the soil of Afghanistan.”

The Taliban statement said the government wanted to implement the Doha pact – an agreement signed in February 2020 between the US and the Taliban for withdrawing foreign forces from Afghanistan after two decades of conflict, which ended a year ago after the fall of Kabul to the Islamists.

The Taliban condemned the drone strike, calling it “a clear violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement.”

“If such action is repeated, the responsibility of any consequences will be on the United States,” the Islamist regime said/

Born in Egypt in 1951, Zawahiri was a doctor, described as shy by his fellow students.

He became one of the most wanted militant leaders in the world.

One of the last times Zawahiri appeared in a video before his death was on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

In that video, titled “Jerusalem will never be Judaized,” Zawahiri spoke for more than an hour on various topics, especially the Palestinian cause.

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