How the CIA identified and killed Al-Qaeda leader al-Zawahiri

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Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a US attack in Afghanistan the worst blow to the militant group since the assassination of its founder, Osama bin Laden, in 2011.

Zawahiri had been in hiding for years, and the operation to find and kill him was the results of “careful, patient and persistent” work by the counterterrorism and intelligence neighborhood, a senior administration official instructed reporters.

Until the US announcement, Zawahiri was rumored to be in Pakistan’s tribal space or in Afghanistan.

On situation of anonymity, the official offered the following particulars about the operation:

For a number of years, the US authorities had been conscious of a community it believed supported Zawahiri, and final 12 months, following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, officers had been on the lookout for any proof of al-Qaeda’s presence in the nation.

That 12 months, officers decided that Zawahiri’s household – his spouse, daughter and their kids – had moved to a secure home in Kabul and subsequently identified Zawahiri at the identical location.

Over a number of months, intelligence officers grew extra assured that that they had appropriately identified Zawahiri at the Kabul safehouse and started briefing senior administration officers in early April. Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor, then briefed President Joe Biden.

“We were able to build a life pattern through multiple independent intelligence sources to inform the operation,” the official mentioned.

When Zawahiri arrived at the secure home in Kabul, officers didn’t know he had left and they identified him on his balcony on a number of events – the place he was finally crushed – the official mentioned.

Officials investigated the building and nature of the shelter and screened its occupants to make sure that the United States might confidently conduct an operation to kill Zawahiri with out threatening the structural integrity of the constructing and minimizing threat to civilians and Zawahiri’s household. mentioned the officer.

In current weeks, the President has convened conferences with key advisers and cupboard members to overview the info and assess the greatest plan of action. On July 1, Biden was briefed by members of his cupboard, together with CIA Director William Burns, of a deliberate operation in the White House Situation Room

Biden “asked detailed questions about what we knew and how we knew it” and intently examined a mannequin of the secure home that the intelligence businesses had constructed and delivered to the assembly.

He requested about lighting, climate, constructing supplies and different elements that might have an effect on the success of the operation, the official mentioned. The President additionally known as for an evaluation of the doable penalties of a strike in Kabul.

A detailed panel of senior inter-agency attorneys examined the intelligence stories and confirmed that Zawahiri was a legit goal of al-Qaeda due to his continued management.

On July 25, the president agreed along with his key cupboard members and advisers to obtain a ultimate briefing and talk about how killing Zawahiri would have an effect on America’s relationship with the Taliban, amongst different issues, the official mentioned. After soliciting opinions from others in the room, Biden approved “a precisely tailored airstrike” given that it minimized the threat of civilian casualties.

The assault was lastly carried out at 9:48 p.m. ET (0148 GMT) on July 30 by a drone firing so-called “Hellfire” missiles.

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