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Tipsheet

Al Qaeda Chief Taken Out by U.S. Drone Strike

AP Photo/IntelCenter, File

The United States carried out a successful counterterrorism operation in Afghanistan over the weekend, taking out Al Qaeda chief Aiman Al-Zawahiri, who had succeeded Osama Bin Laden since U.S. forces killed him in 2011. 

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Zawahiri is was one of the world's most-wanted terrorists and had a $25 million bounty placed on his head by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his role in planning the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 that claimed nearly 3,000 innocent lives on U.S. soil as well as the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000 and the August 7, 1988 bombings of U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya.

A White House release confirmed that "Over the weekend, the United States conducted a counterterrorism operation against a significant Al Qaeda target in Afghanistan," with additional details confirmed by sources ahead of a speech by President Joe Biden scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.

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In the early morning hours of Sunday local time in Kabul — or late evening hours of Saturday on America's East Cost — a CIA drone strike was launched in Kabul, likely but still unconfirmed to be the one that took out Zawahiri without any reported civilian casualties. 

As Townhall reported previously, Al Qaeda had capitalized on Biden's disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan and Zawahiri had recently been confirmed to be alive and active. Reports from Afghanistan found that following the U.S. withdrawal, Al Qaeda enjoyed an "apparent increased comfort and ability to communicate" that "coincided with the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan and the consolidation of power of key Al-Qaida allies within their de facto administration." 

What's more, a report from May stated that Al Qaeda was "pleased with developments in Afghanistan" and it was reported that Zawahiri was poised to "be able to lead more effectively than was possible before the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan" in such a way that Al Qaeda "appear[ed] free to pursue its objectives."

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The successful strike hopefully changes the reality on the ground for Al Qaeda and deals them a serious setback as they had been planning to develop Afghanistan into a fundraising, training, and launching point for future attacks outside of their immediate domain. The hit also comes as the one year anniversary of Biden's U.S. withdrawal from the country draws near, one in which 13 U.S. service members were killed by an ISIS-K suicide bomber who detonated a vest outside a gate entrance to Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport. 

This is a developing story and may be updated.

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