WASHINGTON: The United States on Sunday eliminated al-Qaida fugitive and Osama bin Laden successor Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike in Kabul, the first since its withdrawal from the region, triggering recrimination and infighting among Taliban and its patron Pakistan about who sold him out.
US officials said the Zawahin was hit by two Hellfire missiles as he stepped onto the balcony of a Taliban controlled safe house in Kabul, where he had been living with members of his family after moving there from Pakistan earlier this year In a televised address, US President Joe Biden said “justice has been delivered while repeating the American mantra 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.”
US eyes in the skies and spies on the ground reportedly tracked Zawahiri for weeks to determine his routine and ensure no other family members were killed in the drone strike that was planned over weeks.
Reports of positive identification and confirmation on the ground that it was Zawahiri who was eliminated fueled speculation about continued US assets in the region, in Kabul, and Pakistan’s role in the operation.
Some analysts suggested Zawahini had been “sacrificed” by Pakistan to return to US good books and secure financial aid, including an IMF bailout, pointing to army chief Bajwa’s recent appeal to Washington for financial assistance.
Afghan resistance leader Amrulla Saleh was among those who pointed
out that for much of its history Pak has managed to mitigate its
financial crisis by monetization of threat from Afg & banking on
security interest of the West
Explainer: Who was al-Qaida leader al-Zawahiri-and why did US kill him? Around sunrise on Sunday, Al-Zawahin came outside on the balcony of a house in kabul, Afghanistan and apparently fingered
“When the US took out Bin Laden relations with Pakistan sunk to a new low. With the US taking out Zawahiri and quite possibly with Pakistani assistance, relations with Pakistan may receive one of their biggest boosts in years tweeted Michael Kugelmania South Asia scholar at the Wilsort Center
But other analysts cautioned that it was also possible Zawahiri’s coordinates were sold out by sections of Taliban that is opposed to Pakistan and its proxies in Kabul, and which did not want al-Qaida to return to Afghanistan.
The fugitive al-Qaida leader was reportedly brought to a safe house in Kabul by leaders of the Haqqani network considered a virtual arm of the ISI, and which is now part of the primitive ruling clique in
Sirajuddin Haqqani, son of the network’s founder Jalaluddin Haqqani, is the current Interior Minister for the Taliban government, which is known to be riven with factions.
In a statement, the Taliban government condemned the drone attack “in the strongest possible terms and considers it a clear violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement. But the US State Department shot back saying it was the Taliban that had violated its pledge in the Doha agreement not to allow terrorist groups to operate within their territory and to break all relations with those groups.
It will take some tirne for the smoke to lift and the mirrors to straighten, but for now it is certain Washington has eliminated one of
In a statement, the Taliban government condemned the drone attack “in the strongest possible terms and considers it a clear violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement.” But the US State Department shot back saying it was the Taliban that had violated its pledge in the Doha agreement not to allow terrorist groups to operate within their territory and to break all relations with those groups.
It will take some time for the smoke to lift and the mirrors to straighten, but for now it is certain Washington has eliminated one of last al-Qaida terrorists– but not the miasma of mistrust in the region.