The White House announced Monday that it had conducted a “counterterrorism operation” to eliminate Al Qaeda’s leader Ayman Al Zawiri.
The operation, senior administration officials told reporters during a background call, was conducted at 9: 48 p.m. Eastern time July 30 – or 6: 18 a.m Kabul time July 31 – and carried out “by an unmanned aerial vehicle.” It was the result of several months of “careful, patient and persistent work,” one official added. “We have multiple intelligence resources, using multiple methods that have been capable of confirming that this is Al-Zawahiri” the official stated, but declined to give details.
Zawahiri helped plan the 9/11 attacks and took over as the leader of Al Qaeda after the U.S. killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, CNN reported.
Zawahiri was also involved in numerous other attacks on U.S. targets throughout the years. In a Monday statement, a senior official from the administration described Zawahiri in a “significant Al Qaeda target”. Officials claimed that there were no civilian casualties in the attack. (RELATED: REPORT: Documents From Osama Bin Laden Indicate He Never Expected America To Go To War After 9/11)
Zawahiri and his family moved to a safe house in Afghanistan within the past year, and though it’s believed that he never left the compound, he would often hang out on a balcony, according to a senior administration official. Ultimately, the U.S. government was able to kill Zawahiri on July 30 as he was on that balcony, and none of his family members are believed to have died as a result of the air strike.
His demise deals a serious blow to al Qaeda,” said the official. He also stated that the safe house was now empty .”
The operation came after months of planning and research. A senior administration official revealed that only a small number of people were informed about the intelligence.
Biden received several briefings throughout the operation’s planning and ultimately had a final briefing July 25. A senior official in the administration cautioned that it was not surprising that former al Qaeda leader would “film additional videos that might be released after his demise Biden made remarks at the White House Monday night, as the U.S. approaches its one year anniversary of withdrawal from Afghanistan.