Zawahiri’s killing in Afghanistan is seen as a political victory for the Biden administration nearly a year later a heavily criticized US withdrawal from the countrywhich left it under the control of the Taliban and raised fears that Al-Qaeda could not reassert itself there.
obama called the news “proof that it is possible to eradicate terrorism without going to war in Afghanistan”, adding that he hoped Zawahiri’s death would bring “some peace to the 9/11 families and all those who suffered at the hands of al-Qaeda.”
The Taliban government “strongly condemned the attack”, chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, calling the strike a violation of international standards and the agreement signed in Doha, Qatar, by the United States and the United States. Taliban in 2020.
But a senior Biden administration official said the al-Qaeda leader’s presence in Kabul was a violation of the Doha deal and that senior Haqqani Taliban faction officials knew Zawahiri lived in the Afghan capital. and took steps after the strike to conceal his presence.
Messages of support poured in from lawmakers shortly after Biden’s speech. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised Biden “for his strong leadership,” while Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) called the mission “a major achievement” that brought justice to one of the people “who helped orchestrate the cold-blooded murder of thousands of my fellow New Yorkers on 9/11”.
Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in a statement posted on Twitter on Monday night also credited Biden for approving the drone operation, saying “the world is a better and safer place” without Zawahiri. But McConnell urged the administration to come up with a comprehensive security plan in Afghanistan in light of the fact that Zawahiri appeared to have lived in central Kabul.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, wrote on social media that Zawahiri was “a monster responsible for the deaths of thousands of people around the world”. Two Senate Republicans — Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Marco Rubio (Florida) — also released statements late Monday, praising the U.S. military and intelligence community for taking down the terrorist leader.
But Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who promoted conspiracy theories including one suggesting 9/11 was a hoax, criticized Biden for trying to “get tough on TV.” Green tweeted that while Zawahiri was plotting 9/11 and the bombardment of the Navy destroyer Cole in 2000“No one in America has been afraid of an Al Qaeda attack lately or even heard of them.”
9/11 Families United released a statement expressing gratitude to US intelligence agencies and the military for the “sacrifices that have been made to eliminate such evil from our lives.” But the news also serves as a reminder, President Terry Strada said, that for full accountability, “President Biden must also hold Saudi paymasters accountable for the murder of our loved ones,” referring to allegations that Saudi government agents provided support for the 9/11 plot. Saudi authorities have repeatedly denied such a link. The 9/11 commission Noted in 2004 that he found no evidence that “the Saudi government as an institution or senior officials within the Saudi government funded al-Qaeda”.
After Biden’s speech, Saudi Arabia quickly released a statement welcoming Zawahiri’s death, which it said “directed the planning and execution of heinous terrorist operations” that killed innocent people, including Saudi citizens”. The Persian Gulf kingdom became the target of al-Qaeda attacks after 9/11, including in 2003 offensive in its capital, Riyadh, which left 11 dead and more than 120 injured.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeaua close US ally, later called Zawahiri’s death “a step towards a safer world”, while his Australian counterpart, Anthony Albanese, said he hoped the relatives of the victims “find some of comfort” in the death of Zawahiri.
Ellen Francis contributed to this report.