Biden’s ‘betrayal’ of Afghanistan led to 9/11 architect living in Kabul, experts claim

Military experts today blamed Joe Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan for the presence of an al-Qaeda leader in Kabul, who was killed in a US drone strike overnight.

Ayman al-Zawahiri – Osama Bin Laden’s fanatical deputy who helped plan 9/11 and many other attacks on the West – was wiped out from the balcony of a safe house in the Afghan capital.

President Biden issued a rallying cry as he delivered the news in the early hours of this morning, saying: ‘We made it clear again tonight that no matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out.’

But the presence of a terrorist leader in Afghanistan intensified global scrutiny of its Taliban rulers and further undermined their efforts to secure international recognition and desperately needed aid. 

The Taliban had promised in the 2020 Doha Agreement on the terms of the US withdrawal from the Asian country that they would not harbour al-Qaeda members. 

Nearly a year after the chaotic pullout from Afghanistan, al-Zawahri’s killing raises questions about the involvement of Taliban leaders in sheltering a mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks and one of America’s most-wanted fugitives. 

Scott Lucas, Professor of American Studies at the University of Birmingham, was among those to voice criticism this morning.

Ayman al-Zawahiri

President Joe Biden on Monday evening announced a CIA drone strike killed al Qaeda leader’s Ayman al-Zawahiri (pictured right earlier this year), Osama Bin Laden’s fanatical deputy who was the mastermind behind multiple attacks over the last two decades that have left thousands of Americans dead 

Al-Zawahiri was Bin Laden's No 2 in Al-Qaeda, the radical jihadist network once led by the Saudi millionaire. The two are seen above in this September 2006 file photo. Al-Zawahiri took over the organization after Bin Laden was killed in a SEAL team raid in 2011, but he was being hunted by the U.S. as far back as 1998

Al-Zawahiri was Bin Laden’s No 2 in Al-Qaeda, the radical jihadist network once led by the Saudi millionaire. The two are seen above in this September 2006 file photo. Al-Zawahiri took over the organization after Bin Laden was killed in a SEAL team raid in 2011, but he was being hunted by the U.S. as far back as 1998 

A full flight of 265 people are evacuated out of Kabul by the UK Armed Forces on August 21, 2021

A full flight of 265 people are evacuated out of Kabul by the UK Armed Forces on August 21, 2021 

British armed forces work with the U.S. military to evacuate eligible civilians and their families out of the country on August 21, 2021

British armed forces work with the U.S. military to evacuate eligible civilians and their families out of the country on August 21, 2021

He told GB News: ‘I think it’s significant from the standpoint of how we consider the Taliban, because the Taliban – having taken power last August, having had the experience more than 20 years ago of being kicked out of power in part because they sheltered al-Qaeda – they went ahead and let al-Zawahiri come in. 

‘I think the Republicans will try to make political capital about it but I don’t think many Americans will really actually care that much about it. 

‘The fact is the real betrayal in Afghanistan was the betrayal of the Afghan people when the Americans left so quickly. 

‘To give you a quick snapshot of how many people were involved in that betrayal of Afghanistan: by 2003, the idea we were in Afghanistan to contain al-Qaeda was gone. 

‘The fact is Osama Bin Laden wasn’t in Afghanistan, he was in Pakistan and the US administration – then a Republican administration – was more concerned about invading Iraq to get rid of Saddam Hussein. 

‘This has been a long term thing, I think the Biden administration will say they’re trying to control terrorism with what they call over-the-horizon strikes but the fact is Afghanistan was abandoned politically, economically and socially by the US and others several months ago.’

Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt also raised concerns, telling Sky News: ‘I’m afraid a lot of people will draw that inference [that the Taliban’s claim they’re not harbouring terrorists can’t be trusted] and I draw that inference as well. 

‘I think the withdrawal from Afghanistan was a very big low point for many, many reasons but this was the most important thing of all. 

‘We were supposed to be negotiating that Afghanistan would not go back to being a harbour for terrorists, I think this indicates we can’t be sure that’s not the case.’

A view of Sherpur neighborhood where al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri killed by US Drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan

A view of Sherpur neighborhood where al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri killed by US Drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan

Taliban security stand guard in the neighborhood where a US drone strike killed the Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Kabul, Afghanistan

Taliban security stand guard in the neighborhood where a US drone strike killed the Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Kabul, Afghanistan

Taliban security patrol in the neighborhood where a US drone strike killed the Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Kabul, Afghanistan

Taliban security patrol in the neighborhood where a US drone strike killed the Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Kabul, Afghanistan

Al-Zawahiri, 71, was killed by two Hellfire 'Ninja' missiles - fitted with extending blades - fired from CIA drones as he stood on the balcony of his safe house

Al-Zawahiri, 71, was killed by two Hellfire ‘Ninja’ missiles – fitted with extending blades – fired from CIA drones as he stood on the balcony of his safe house

Al-Zawahiri, 71, was in a safehouse in Sherpur, a wealthy area of downtown Kabul that's home to multiple Taliban officials, when he was taken out in the drone strike

 Al-Zawahiri, 71, was in a safehouse in Sherpur, a wealthy area of downtown Kabul that’s home to multiple Taliban officials, when he was taken out in the drone strike

The terrorist leader was killed by two Hellfire missiles - fitted with extending blades - fired from CIA drones in a mission that took six months to plan. U.S. officials didn't confirm the model, but it is believed they used the R9X 'Ninja' missile that don't have explosives and limit collateral damage

The terrorist leader was killed by two Hellfire missiles – fitted with extending blades – fired from CIA drones in a mission that took six months to plan. U.S. officials didn’t confirm the model, but it is believed they used the R9X ‘Ninja’ missile that don’t have explosives and limit collateral damage

Al-Zawahiri's FBI wanted poster - there was a $25 million reward for information on him

Al-Zawahiri’s FBI wanted poster – there was a $25 million reward for information on him

The safe house is in Kabul’s upscale Shirpur neighborhood, home to several Taliban leaders who had moved into mansions of former top Afghan officials of the toppled Western-backed government.

The Taliban initially sought to describe the strike as America violating the Doha deal, which also includes a Taliban pledge not to shelter those seeking to attack the US – something al-Zawahri had done for years in internet videos and online screeds. The Taliban have yet to say who was killed in the strike.

Meanwhile, rumors persist of unease in the Taliban ranks – particularly between the powerful group known as the Haqqani network, which apparently sheltered al-Zawahri, and other Taliban figures.

‘The killing of Ayman al-Zawahri has raised many questions,’ said one Pakistani intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press as he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly to reporters. 

Al-Zawahri took over as al-Qeida’s leader after bin Laden was killed in Pakistan in 2011, in an operation by US Navy SEALs.

‘The Taliban were aware of his presence in Kabul, and if they were not aware of it, they need to explain their position,’ the official said.

Fanatical ideologue whose new brand of terror prized massacring innocents: Ayman al-Zawahiri inspired Bin Laden to attack the US and wanted Al-Qaeda to get NUCLEAR weapons to incinerate infidels

Osama bin Laden’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has been killed by a CIA drone strike, led a new brand of terror that prized massacring innocents, having inspired the former leader to gather nuclear and biological weapons.

Al-Zawahiri, who took over Al-Qaeda after Bin Laden’s death in 2011, was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan following the US strike.

The terrorist leader is said to have guided al-Qaeda to become one of the biggest radical movements, having been identified as a mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States that killed nearly 3,000 people.

At 15, the Egyptian spearheaded his own militant group, Jamaat al-Jihad, that championed large-scale attacks and the murder of civilians.

As it grew, he later merged it with al-Qaeda in the 1990s, bringing this focus on indiscriminate killing to the terrorist group. 

The 71-year-old was on the FBI’s most-wanted terrorist list, having declared the US ‘the far enemy’, with a $25 million reward for information leading directly to him.

The surgeon, also called The Doctor, led a terrorist lab developing biological weapons and was the force behind al-Qaeda’s ambition to gain nuclear weapons.

Al Quaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri in a recorded message where he threatened that attacks on London would continue as a result of Tony Blair's policies in the middle east

Al Quaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri in a recorded message where he threatened that attacks on London would continue as a result of Tony Blair’s policies in the middle east

‘To kill Americans and their allies — civilian and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in every country in which it is possible to do it, al-Zawahiri wrote in a 1998 manifesto. 

Three years later, he helped to plan the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

As part of this, al-Zawahiri was planned follow-on attacks across the US, and started a biological weapons program in Afghanistan. He sent group disciples out to find lethal strains of anthrax and scientists that would engage with his plans. 

However the Egyptian abandoned the biological weapons laboratory after a US-backed military effort forced Taliban allies of al-Qaeda out of power in Afghanistan.

Osama bin Laden’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri has been killed by a CIA drone strike, after the FBI put a $25million bounty on the al-Qaeda leader's head.

Osama bin Laden’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri has been killed by a CIA drone strike, after the FBI put a $25million bounty on the al-Qaeda leader’s head. 

His own militant group began when he was 15, having organised an underground cell of friends to overthrow Egypt’s Islamic theocracy and government, after it executed Qutb in 1966.

This cell grew to become the Jihad Group, which plotted the assassination of Eqyptian leaders in the early 1980s, and was also involved in the killing of the country’s president, Anwar Sadat on Octover 6, 1981, the Washington Post reported.

‘We have sacrificed and we are still ready for more sacrifices until the victory of Islam,’ he shouted in the courtroom. 

He was briefly jailed for three years for the possession of arms, having been acquitted of the main charges. Later, he claimed to have been tortured while behind bars. After his release, he began touring South Asia and became the personal doctor to Bin Laden.

In 1997, while living in Afghanistan, al-Zawahiri was involved in planning an attack on Egyptian tourists visiting the Luxor ruins.

Al-Zawahiri is pictured on an al-Qaeda who's who published in 2005. Osama bin Laden is pictured top-left, with al-Zawahiri to his right

Al-Zawahiri is pictured on an al-Qaeda who’s who published in 2005. Osama bin Laden is pictured top-left, with al-Zawahiri to his right

A five-year-old British girl was one of the 62 who died during the 45-minute killing rampage, the Washington Post reported.

The next year, al-Zawahiri was indicted for his alleged role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, which killed hundreds of people. 

Both he and bin Laden escaped U.S. forces in Afghanistan in late 2001, and was thought to have fled to Pakistan. 

He took over Al-Qaeda in 2011, when bin Laden was killed in a raid by U.S. forces in Pakistan. 

A succession of Al-Zawahiri deputies were also killed after bin Laden’s death, weakening his international coordination efforts.

Al-Zawahiri appeared in a video last year marking the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, months after rumours spread that he was dead

Al-Zawahiri appeared in a video last year marking the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, months after rumours spread that he was dead

Al-Zawahiri’s whereabouts had been a mystery, with rumours spreading since late 2020 that he had died from illness.

But he appeared in a new video in April, where he denounced the ‘enemies of Islam’, after a school in India banned the wearing of the hijab. 

In a nine-minute video released by As-Sahab Media, al-Qaeda’s official media wing, al-Zawahiri praised Muslim student Muskan Khan after she wore the Islamic scarf at a school in Karnataka state, governed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

According to translations provided by counter-terror experts on Twitter, including the SITE Intelligence Group that monitors jihadist websites, the Egyptian-born doctor accused ‘the pagan Hindu democracy of India’ of seeking to ‘oppress Muslims’.

Al-Zawahiri also decried France, Holland, and Switzerland, as well as Egypt and Morocco, as ‘enemies of Islam’ for their anti-hijab policies.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, left, with Osama bin Laden. Al-Zawahiri helped to plan the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon

Ayman al-Zawahiri, left, with Osama bin Laden. Al-Zawahiri helped to plan the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon

He further criticised the governments of Pakistan and Bangladesh, accusing them of defending ‘the very enemies that have empowered them to fight us’. 

His death will be formally announced by President Joe Biden in an address to the nation from the White House at 7:30 pm ET.

‘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,’ a senior administration official confirmed. 

The drone attack is the first known over-the-horizon strike by the United States on an al-Qaeda target in Afghanistan since American forces withdrew from the country on August 31, 2021. 

US officials did not clarify where in Afghanistan the strike took place. 

The New York Times, Washington Post and CNN were among outlets reporting the target’s identity, citing unidentified sources. 

On Saturday morning the Afghan interior ministry denied reports circulating on social media of a drone strike in Kabul, stating that a rocket struck ‘an empty house’ in the capital, causing no casualties.

Early Tuesday in Kabul, however, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that an ‘aerial attack’ was carried out on a residence in the Sherpur area of the city.

‘The nature of the incident was not revealed at first. The security and intelligence agencies of the Islamic Emirate investigated the incident and found in their preliminary investigations that the attack was carried out by American drones,’ his tweet said.

Somalis hold a poster as they demonstrate against the Al Shebab Somali rebel group's announcement that they will officially join the Al Qaeda Islamic militant network. Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri officially announced the union between the two terror groups in 2012

Somalis hold a poster as they demonstrate against the Al Shebab Somali rebel group’s announcement that they will officially join the Al Qaeda Islamic militant network. Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri officially announced the union between the two terror groups in 2012

In recent months the Taliban have largely barred media from covering the aftermath of security incidents and frequently deny or downplay any casualties. 

Al-Zawahiri last appeared in a video last year marking the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, months after rumours spread that he was dead.

In that video, he proclaimed ‘Jerusalem will never be Judaized’ and praised al-Qaeda attacks – including one that targeted Russian troops in Syria in January 2021. SITE said al-Zawahiri also noted the US military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan 20 years after the invasion.

In recent years, al-Qaeda has faced competition in jihadi circles from its rival, the Islamic State group. IS rose to prominence by seizing large swaths of Iraq and Syria in 2014, declaring a ‘caliphate’ and extending affiliates to multiple countries across the region.

IS’s physical ‘caliphate’ was crushed in Iraq and Syria, though its militants are still active and carrying out attacks.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the shadowy leader of IS, was killed by US special forces in a raid in northwestern Syria in October 2019.

Al-Zawahiri was born in Egypt in 1951 and worked as a surgeon. He moved to Jeddah in the 1980s, where he met bin Laden. He became his personal advisor and physician.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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