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US takes out Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri in ‘successful’ Afghanistan counterterrorism operation

The United States conducted a “successful” counterterrorism operation against a “significant” Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri in Afghanistan over the weekend, a senior administration official told Fox News.

President Biden on Monday night at 7:30 p.m. E.T. is expected to address the nation from the White House on the operation.

“Over the weekend, the United States conducted a counterterrorism operation against a significant Al Qaeda target in Afghanistan,” the senior administration official told Fox News Monday. “The operation was successful and there were no civilian casualties.”

Two intelligence sources tell Fox News Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri was killed in the CIA drone strike.

BIDEN ADMIN WARNED NOT TO WITHHOLD AFTER-ACTION REPORTS ON BOTCHED AFGHANISTAN WITHDRAWAL

Former Vice President Dick Cheney told Fox News Digital in reaction to the news of the operation “It’s good that we got him, I’ve been out of the business for many years, so I am waiting to learn all the facts.” 

Cheney served under former President George W. Bush, whose administration led the Global War on Terror after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

The Biden administration closed the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and withdrew all military assets from Afghanistan on Aug. 31, 2021, ending the United States’ longest war. 

President Biden, at the time, defended pulling out of Afghanistan by claiming Al Qaeda was gone.

“What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point with al Qaeda gone?” Biden said on Aug. 20, 2021. “We went to Afghanistan for the express purpose of getting rid of al Qaeda in Afghanistan, as well as — as well as getting Osama bin Laden.  And we did.” 

But Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, last September, warned lawmakers that terror groups like Al Qaeda may be able to grow much faster following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahri's FBI "Most Wanted" mugshot

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, at the time, said that the focus of continued U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan would be countering terrorist threats, not the Taliban. Austin said the U.S. would “keep an eye on” Al Qaeda, the extremist network whose use of Afghanistan as a haven for planning the 9/11 attacks on the United States was the reason U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

Ayman Al Zawahiri appeared in a video last year commemorating 20 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks despite rumors that he died months earlier.

FILE - As seen on a computer screen from a DVD prepared by Al-Sahab production, Al Qaeda's Ayman Al Zawahri speaks in Islamabad, Pakistan, on June 20, 2006.

Al Zawahiri was appointed the successor to Usama bin Laden in June 2011, a month after the terrorist leader was shot and killed by U.S. forces at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Fox News’ Andrew Murray and Jon Brown contributed to this report. 

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