United States intelligence officials reported Monday that they conducted a “successful” counterterrorism operation against a “significant” al Qaeda leader in Afghanistan over the weekend.
Two intelligence sources told Fox News Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a CIA drone strike. “Over the weekend, the United States conducted a counterterrorism operation against a significant Al Qaeda target in Afghanistan,” one senior administration official told the outlet Monday. “The operation was successful and there were no civilian casualties.”
President Biden is expected to address the nation from the White House regarding the operation on Monday night at 7:30 p.m. ET.
In August of last year, the Biden Administration closed the embassy in Kabul and completely withdrew forces from the country, a move that drew immense criticism and widely considered one of the most botched military operations of the 21st century.
It is estimated that over $7 billion worth of equipment was left behind in the hands of the Taliban which quickly overthrew the U.S.-backed government. Additionally, at least several hundred U.S. citizens were left behind with no way to return to their home country.
This prompted Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley to warn lawmakers that terror groups like al Qaeda may be able to grow much faster after the withdrawal.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, at the time, said that the focus of continued U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan would be countering terrorist threats rather than the Taliban. He said the U.S. would “keep an eye on” al Qaeda, the extremist network which used Afghanistan as their planning location for the 9/11 attacks, which prompted the U.S. invasion in 2001.
Al-Zawahiri was believed to have died last year before he appeared in a video commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Al-Zawahiri was appointed the successor to Osama 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.