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Tipsheet

Questions Mount After Zawahiri Strike

AP Photo/IntelCenter, File

President Biden announced Monday that a U.S. drone strike took out al Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Kabul, Afghanistan over the weekend. And while the news is welcome given his role in planning 9/11, questions are being raised about the administration’s account of the strike.

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“Our intelligence community located Zawahiri earlier this year. He had moved to downtown Kabul to reunite with members of his immediate family. After carefully considering the clear and convincing evidence of his location, I authorized a precision strike that would remove him from the battlefield once and for all,” Biden said.

The president also claimed the strike was so successful that "none of his family members were hurt, and there were no civilian casualties."

“If that is true, this is a real win,” commented Fred Fleitz, vice chair of the America First Policy Institute Center for American Security. “But let me throw some cold water on this.”

The former CIA analyst and National Security Council chief of staff went on to raise a number of questions about the attack during an interview with Fox News’s Bret Baier. 

“I’m skeptical that a year after the disastrous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan this happens,” he said. “I’d like to know how this happened…how did it happen now? Do we know Zawahiri was really killed? There’s no western media on the ground to confirm this and were civilians killed also? We know there were other drone strikes that this administration launched after the disastrous explosion at the Kabul airport in August, we were told that no civilians were killed, that wasn’t true.”

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Fleitz called for Congress to investigate what really happened during the strike since the administration has a history of saying things that aren’t accurate, he said. 

"I hope that this is accurate and I want to give Joe Biden credit," Fleitz continued, "but I also want them to investigate this to find out what really happened."

According to NPR, which had a team on the ground in Afghanistan the day of the strike, explosions were heard Sunday local time. "People then began sharing images of a multi-story house with windows blown out, and it's a house in the Sherpur neighborhood," Steve Inskeep said. "Rumors did quickly spread that it was a drone attack, which Biden has now confirmed."

He added: "The Taliban put out a statement overnight and said their investigation confirmed that American drones - plural, drones - conducted this attack. They didn't say a word about casualties, and they complained about the attack and said it was a violation of international agreements."

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