Trey Yingst, a foreign correspondent, joins “Special Report” from Jerusalem to talk about the assassination of al Qaeda founder Ayman al-Zawahiri.
NEW Fox News articles can now be heard on audio! Ayman Al Zawahiri, the leader of al Qaeda, was killed on Monday, according to President Biden. This “successful” counterterrorism operation in Afghanistan removes the terrorist from the battlefield “once and for all” and hinders the ability of the terror network to conduct business.
As part of a “precise counterterrorism operation,” the US government killed Zawahiri on July 30 at 9:48 p.m. ET and 6:18 a.m. Kabul time. Zawahiri had been Usama bin Laden’s deputy during the 9/11 attacks and had succeeded him in 2011 after bin Laden’s death.
In a speech to the American people on Monday night, Biden declared that “justice has been delivered” and issued a warning to those who would damage the United States.
Since the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, Zawahiri, according to Biden, “organized al Qaeda’s branches all over the world,” defining objectives and delivering operational advice that “call for and motivate strikes against U.S. targets.”
Ayman Al Zawahiri and Usama bin Laden are shown together in
(Hamid Mir/Editor/Ausaf Newspaper for Daily Dawn/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo)
In recent weeks, according to Biden, Zawahiri posted films encouraging his followers to “attack the United States and our allies.”
Now that justice has been served, this terrorist leader is no longer, according to Biden. “People no longer need to be afraid of the ruthless and determined killer,”
The president went on to say that “the United States continues to demonstrate our determination and our capabilities to defend the American people against those who attempt to do us harm.” We reiterate this evening that if you pose a threat to our citizens, the United States will find you and eliminate you, regardless of how long it takes or where you hide.
According to the president, he “ordered a precision strike that would permanently eliminate him from the battlefield.”
On July 25, Biden granted the get-ahead “to go get him.”
In a statement, Vice President Joe Biden said, “I’m sharing this news with the American people now, after confirming the mission’s total success through the painstaking work of our counterterrorism community and key allies and partners,” adding that his administration had also kept congressional leaders updated.
There were no civilian injuries as a result of the operation, according to a senior government official on Monday.
Ayman Al Zawahiri, the commander of Al Qaeda, talks on the occasion of Usama bin Laden’s death’s 11th anniversary (AP Photo/Mazhar Ali Khan, File).
The president stated that he determined that “the United States no longer needed thousands of boots on the ground in Afghanistan to safeguard America from terrorists who aim to do us harm” when discussing his choice to withdraw American military personnel from Afghanistan in August.
And I pledged to the American people that we would keep carrying out successful counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere, continued Biden. “We’ve already done it.”
Because of Zawahiri’s death, according to Biden, “never again allow Afghanistan to become a terrorist safe haven.”
Biden stated of Afghanistan, “We’re going to make sure that nothing else happens—you know, it can’t be a launching pad against the United States.” “We’ll take steps to prevent that from happening. This operation shows unequivocally that we intend to, are capable of, and will always fulfill that solemn commitment.”
The U.S. government has “multiple intelligence sources via multiple methods that had enabled us to confirm that this was Zawahiri, and that we were successful in achieving our objective,” according to officials, who stated on Monday that Zawahiri “continued to pose an active threat to U.S. persons, interests, and national security.”
The representative claimed that the American administration located Zawahiri in Kabul.
The official said, noting that the government had this year identified Zawahiris wife, daughter, and her children at a safe house in Kabul, “The Al Zawahiri family performed longtime terrorist tradecraft that we determined was aimed to prevent anyone from following them to Zawahiri.”
Early in April, members of the Biden administration, including White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, received a briefing on that intelligence. The president subsequently received it.
U.S. government authorities looked into the building’s design after learning where Zawahiri was hiding out in order to “confidently launch an operation to murder” him without endangering the structure and with the least amount of danger to nearby residents and the Zawahiri family.
Ayman Al Zawahiri’s mugshot from the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list (Federal Bureau of Investigations)
Only a very small and select group of officials from important agencies, according to the official, were briefed on the evolving intelligence and invited into the process and early debates.
The official stated that “the president held several meetings over the course of the last few weeks with his key advisers and cabinet members to carefully examine the intelligence and determine the best course of action for targeting Zawahiri.” The official added that Biden was kept up to date on the targets’ progress throughout May and June.
Important members of Biden’s Cabinet, including CIA Director William Burns, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Christine Abizaid, and other national security officials, briefed Biden on a proposed operation on July 1 in the White House Situation Room.
“As usual, the president paid close attention to the briefing and the intelligence. The official remarked that the president requested explanations of “lights, of weather, of construction materials, and of other things that could influence the effectiveness of this operation and lessen the chance of civilian casualties. He asked comprehensive questions about what we knew and how we knew it.”
The person added, “He was very focused on making sure that every precaution had been taken to ensure the operation would reduce that danger and he wanted to understand the basis upon which we had confidence in our assessment.
In addition to ordering the U.S. administration to be “prepared to manage the implications of the strike in the region and beyond,” Biden also asked the intelligence community to compile a number of impact studies that he could fully comprehend.
In order to “pressure test” the intelligence, Biden and officials frequently convened in person in the White House Situation Room in June and July.
According to the person, interagency lawyers also looked over the intelligence reports to determine “the legal basis for the operation.”
On April 5, 2022, the media arm of al-Qaeda, al-Sahab, released this image of al Qaeda chief Ayman Al Zawahiri speaking. Al Zawahiri praises Muskan Khan, an Indian Muslim lady who disobeyed a prohibition on wearing a headscarf in February, in the rare video, providing the first indication in months that he is still alive. (AP via Al-Sahab)
Given his ongoing leadership position within Al Qaeda and his participation in and operational support of Al Qaeda strikes, they “confirmed that Zawahiri was a valid target,” the person added.
After a meeting with government representatives on July 25, President Biden gave the order to launch the airstrike.
The president requested “each participants view,” according to the source, and stated that “all strongly urged adoption of this aim.”
The official said, adding that this meant the government could launch a strike “whenever an opportunity was presented,” that the president had “approved a precise, targeted air strike on the condition that a strike minimize, to the greatest extent feasible, the risk of civilian casualties.”
Unmanned aerial vehicles carried out the hit on July 30. Zawahiri was killed after being hit by two hellfire missiles.
Zawahiri was recognized by the government “several times for sustained lengths of time on the balcony, where he was ultimately struck,” according to a senior administration official.
The official noted that members of Zawahiri’s family were present “in other parts of the safe house at the time of the strike and were purposefully not targeted and were unharmed,” adding that “we are confident through our intelligence sources and methods, including multiple streams of intelligence, that we killed Zawahiri and no other individual.”
The official stated, “We have no indication that the strike caused any harm to civilians.”
The official declared that the killing of Zawahiris “deals a huge blow to al Qaeda and will diminish the groups ability to operate, including against the U.S. homeland.” “This decision upholds the President’s solemn promise to defend Americans against terrorist threats, including threats that potentially originate in Afghanistan,” the statement reads.
On August 31, 2021, the Biden administration ended the country’s longest conflict by closing the American embassy in Kabul and withdrawing all military personnel.
The president promised that we would set up a capability from outside the country to identify and address terrorist threats to Americans, the official said. “Even as he concluded two decades of war in Afghanistan by taking American soldiers and women out of harm’s way there,” the official said. He followed through on that with this action, demonstrating the incredible ability of American forces to gather intelligence on the most wanted terrorists in the world and then take decisive action to remove him from the battlefield.
The official continued, “The decision of the president has rendered the world a safer place and offered an additional degree of closure for those of us who grieve the victims of 9/11 and other al Qaeda attacks.”
In addition, Biden mentioned other operations that have successfully eradicated terrorists since the withdrawal from Afghanistan in his speech on Monday night. He also stated that his administration “will continue to vigilantly monitor and address threats from al-Qaeda no matter where they emanate from.”
In a dangerous world, it is my solemn duty as Commander in Chief to keep America safe, Biden stated. “The United States did not seek out this fight against terror; it came to us. We responded with the same ideals and resolve that have defined us for generation after generation to preserve liberty, protect the innocent, and keep the light of freedom burning as a beacon for the rest of the world.”
Al Qaeda’s Ayman Al Zawahiri speaks in Islamabad, Pakistan, on June 20, 2006, as shown on a computer screen from a DVD created by Al-Sahab production. (AP Image/B.K. Bangash, File)
Biden also said a “We do not break is a tremendous and defining fact about our country and people. Never do we cave in. We never give up.”
While this was going on, Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s official Twitter account, claimed on Monday that a “air attack was carried out on a residential house in the Sherpur neighborhood of Kabul city,” adding that the “nature of the incident was not revealed at first.”
the strike was criticized by the spokesperson: “Following an investigation, the Islamic Emirate’s security and intelligence organizations determined that American drones were responsible for the attack. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan vehemently rejects this attack under any pretext and denounces it as a flagrant breach of international law and the Doha Agreement.”
The Taliban representative continued: “Such measures go against the interests of the United States of America, Afghanistan, and the region and are a repetition of the unsuccessful experiences of the previous 20 years. Repeating such behaviors will harm the prospects that are available.”
The U.S. government “did not notify the Taliban that we were going to take this strike,” a senior Biden administration official claimed.
Last year, President Biden advocated leaving Afghanistan by asserting that al Qaeda had been defeated.
What interest do we now have in Afghanistan that Al Qaeda is no longer there? stated Biden on August 20, 2021. “We traveled to Afghanistan with the specific intent of capturing Osama bin Laden and eliminating al Qaeda there. We also did.”
Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, however, cautioned legislators last September that if the United States leaves Afghanistan, terrorist organizations like al Qaeda would be able to expand much more quickly.
The Taliban will not be the primary target of ongoing American military operations in Afghanistan, according to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the time. Austin declared that the United States would “keep an eye on” al Qaeda, the extremist group that used Afghanistan as a safe haven to plot the 9/11 attacks against the United States, prompting American soldiers to invade that country in 2001.
Despite claims that he had passed away months before, Ayman Al Zawahiri made an appearance in a video last year marking 20 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Officials claimed on Monday that once Zawahiri got to the safe house in Kabul, he kept making videos. The United States “should not be surprised if Zawahiri filmed further films that may be revealed after his death,” according to officials.
After hearing of the operation, former vice president Dick Cheney told Fox News Digital, “It’s fantastic that we got him, I’ve been out of the business for many years, so I’m waiting to learn all the facts.”
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Cheney worked for former President George W. Bush, whose administration oversaw the Global War on Terror.
by Fox News Jon Brown and Andrew Murray both contributed to this article.
Fox News Digital’s politics reporter is Brooke Singman. Her email address is Brooke.Singman@Fox.com, and her Twitter handle is @BrookeSingman.