Zawahiri killing- The whole scenerio


Despite a $25 million bounty on his head, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri apparently felt comfortable enough with the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan to move into a home in Kabul, where he regularly spent time outdoors on his balcony showed up.

But the US government had not given up its pursuit of one of the masterminds behind the 9/11 attacks and Osama bin Laden’s heir.

After years of tracking him down, US forces fired two Hellfire missiles from a drone flying over the Afghan capital, hitting Zawahiri’s hideout and killing him, President Joe Biden said Monday.

US officials described an operation as meticulously planned as the one that killed Bin Laden at his hideout in Pakistan in 2011.

It was not surprising that the leader of the violent jihadist group was in Afghanistan: Analysts say that al-Qaeda has felt more at home since the Islamist hardliners Taliban regained control in August.

But finding him was still difficult.

“For several years, the US government has been aware of a network that we have identified as supporting Zawahiri,” a senior government official told reporters.

But it was only this year that US intelligence learned that his family, his wife, daughter and their children had moved to the Afghan capital.

They are being careful, the official said, and exercising “longstanding terrorist craftsmanship” to prevent anyone from pursuing them to become the al-Qaeda leader. Despite this, Zawahiri eventually showed up and never left.

“We have repeatedly identified Zawahiri on the balcony for long periods of time,” the official said.

A plan of attack was developed in May and June. The United States constantly monitored the multi-story residence — as the official would not say — to understand the family’s life pattern.

Defense and intelligence officials finalized the plan in June and presented it to Biden at the White House on July 1 using a detailed model of the residence as it was done before bin Laden was raided.

Biden provided detailed questions about the structure, weather issues and the risk to civilians, the official said.

Finally, on July 25, Biden — still suffering from a bout of Covid-19 — made the decision.

It took place with key Cabinet officials attending the closing briefing, mirroring the April 28, 2011 White House meeting where President Barack Obama decided to use US Special Forces to invade Pakistan and capture Bin Laden.

Biden was vice president at the time, and he expressed doubts. The risk of something going wrong was high, bin Laden had not been clearly identified, and relations with Pakistan could suffer as a result, he later recalled.

However, no US troops would enter the country with Zawahiri; Zawahiri has been positively identified; and relations with the Taliban were close to nil.

At the end of the discussion on the 25th, Biden asked each participant for their opinion, as Obama had done 11 years earlier.

“Everyone strongly recommended approval of this target,” and Biden gave the green light, the official said.

The attack involved a US drone armed with two Hellfire precision-guided missiles and was launched at 6:18 am Kabul time on Sunday.

Zawahiri was “killed on the balcony,” the official said.

The rockets don’t appear to have been ordinary hellfire explosives capable of destroying the house.

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