The U.S. State Department issued a “worldwide” caution alert for Americans Tuesday evening, warning that the likelihood that terrorists will strike U.S. interests has increased after the CIA killed Ayman Al Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s deputy and successor as leader of al-Qaeda.
“Following al-Zawahiri’s death, supporters of Al Qaeda, or its affiliated terrorist organizations, may seek to attack U.S. facilities, personnel, or citizens,” the alert said. “As terrorist attacks often occur without warning, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and practice good situational awareness when traveling abroad.”
The State Department said that it has reason to believe that the threat level to U.S. citizens is now “higher” after the drone strike terminated Al Zawahiri.
The warning said that Americans needed to be alert for the possibility of suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings.
The advisory urged Americans to actively monitor local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Terrorism experts quickly downplayed Democrat President Joe Biden’s attempt to count the killing of Al Zawahiri in Afghanistan as a win for his administration, noting the fact that Al-Zawahiri having been in Afghanistan at all means that the terrorist group has returned to the country where they planned the 9/11 attacks.
During the chaotic pullout from Afghanistan last year, Biden declared that al-Qaeda was “gone” from Afghanistan.
“The killing of Al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri will be sold as a counterterrorism success. But that narrative masks the undeniable truth that Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is a safe have for Al Qaeda,” Bill Roggio, terrorism analyst at the Long War Journal, tweeted. “The strike that killed Zawahiri is the first since the U.S withdrawal 1+ months ago. The U.S. saved best for first, and made the first counterterrorism strike count.”
“Zawahiri was killed in the Sherpur neighborhood, in a home run by a deputy of Sirajuddin Haqqani. Sirajuddin is of course one of two deputy Taliban emirs as well as the interior minister,” he continued. “Zawahiri could not operate in Afghanistan – particularly in Kabul – without the consent of the Taliban. He wasn’t in the remote mountains of Kunar, Nuristan, or Nangarhar, or distant provinces of Ghazni, Helmand, or Kandahar. He was in the Taliban’s capital.”
Max Abrahms, an International Security professor, said that killing Al Zawahiri was not “the categorical win Biden says.”
“The Taliban was supposed to prevent Al Qaeda leaders from hiding out there for goodness sake,” Abrahms added.
“There was a reason that Ayman al-Zawahiri was in Kabul,” said Tim Kennedy, a former special forces operator. “Serving as the #2 to Bin Laden in al Qaeda he took advantage of our failed evacuation of Afghanistan and the power vacuum. It is a safe haven for terrorists all around the world. This is a byproduct of what we created.”