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Manhunt operation helped US kill al-Qaeda leader

It took US intelligence many months to determine the identity and operating rules of al-Zawahiri, before launching a devastating air strike in Afghanistan.

US President Joe Biden announced on August 1 that he had instructed US forces to carry out a successful airstrike in the Afghan capital Kabul, killing al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. “Justice has been served, the terrorist boss has been wiped out,” Biden said.

The attack was carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and was the first time the United States has carried out an air strike in Afghanistan since the withdrawal of all forces from the country in August, a senior administration official said. 2021. This is the result of a manhunt operation that the CIA has been secretly conducting for months.

The strike took place in the early hours of July 31, when a US drone launched two Hellfire missiles while al-Zawahiri stepped out on the balcony of his safe house in the Afghan capital, Kabul, where he lives. with many family members.

Us mq-9 uav before a mission in 2020. Photo: reuters.

US MQ-9 UAV before a mission in 2020. Photo: Reuters.

After the missile was fired, a loud explosion was heard from the Shirpur area of ​​central Kabul. This area was once managed by the Afghan Ministry of Defense, before being turned into a residential area with many villas for officials and the wealthy in Afghanistan.

The US intelligence community tracked al-Zawahiri to this house, then spent months trying to confirm his identity and the rules of his activities, including tracking his movements and activities. al-Qaida.

By early April, US intelligence reported to national security officials that al-Zawahiri was living at the compound and had never left his hiding place. President Biden received the report in May-June.

CIA agents built a model of the house to present to President Biden about the attack plan, helping to minimize casualties for those inside and surrounding civilians.

On July 1, Biden joined a meeting at the White House with many top administration officials, including CIA Director William Burns, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Christine Abizaid and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

The next meeting between the White House boss and advisers took place on July 25, in which President Biden urged US intelligence agencies to develop an attack plan to minimize civilian casualties.

“All advisers recommended the raid and Biden approved the plan,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. After the drone launched the missile, US intelligence field sources confirmed that al-Zawahiri was destroyed.

US officials believe that many Taliban government officials knew al-Zawahiri lived in the house and took steps to hide his whereabouts after the attack.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed an airstrike in the capital Kabul on July 31, strongly criticized the move and called it a violation of international principles, but did not comment on the information. al-Zawahiri was killed.

The shirpur area, where the july 31 air strike took place, in the afghan capital, kabul. Graphics: washington post.

The Shirpur area, where the July 31 air strike took place, in the Afghan capital, Kabul. Graphics: Washington Post.

Analysts say Ayman al-Zawahiri played a key role in turning al-Qaeda into a dangerous and ambitious global terrorist organization, merging his Egyptian organization with the extremist group. founded by Osama bin Laden.

Al-Zawahiri is believed to be one of the masterminds of the October 12, 2000 attack on the destroyer USS Cole off the coast of Yemen, which killed 17 American sailors and injured more than 30, and played a role in the attack. Bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998 killed 224 people and injured more than 5,000.

Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri both escaped after the US launched a military operation in Afghanistan in 2001. Al-Zawahiri became the leader of al-Qaeda after US Navy special forces raided his residence and killed bin Laden. In 2011.

Vu Anh (Follow Washington Post)

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