A CIA drone strike in Afghanistan was successful in killing Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who has led the Islamic terrorist group ever since U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, according to reports.
Fox News anchor Bret Baier confirmed the news live on air Monday afternoon. He added that intelligence sources said that this was a big win for the U.S.
The Washington Post and Associated Press later confirmed the news of Al-Zawahiri’s death.
A senior administration official told reporters that “over the weekend, the United States conducted a counterterrorism operation against a significant Al Qaeda target in Afghanistan.”
“The operation was successful and there were no civilian casualties,” the official added.
Al-Zawahiri, who was one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, oversaw the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S.
Some experts believed that Al-Zawahiri was killed during an operation in November 2020 but a recent United Nations report from a few weeks ago said that he was “confirmed to be alive” and was “communicating freely.”
“Member States note that al-Zawahiri’s apparent increased comfort and ability to communicate has coincided with the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and the consolidation of power of key [Al Qaeda] allies within their de facto administration,” the report said.
The Taliban took over Afghanistan following Democrat President Joe Biden’s disastrous withdraw from the country last year.
The next in line the of succession is Saif al Adel, a longtime Al Qaeda leader and veteran, followed by “Abdal-Rahman al-Maghrebi, Yazid Mebrak, the emir of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and Ahmed Diriye, the leader of Shabaab, which is Al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa,” the Long War Journal reported.
Al-Zawahiri was an Egyptian physician who later started the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), which sought to overthrow the government and later merged with Al Qaeda in 1998.
An FBI most wanted bulletin of Al-Zawahiri noted that he had been indicted for his alleged role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya.
This report has been updated to include additional information.