SRINAGAR: A US drone strike killed al-Qaeda ideologue Ayman al-Zawahiri in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan on Sunday, global media reported. The 71-year-old Egyptian was carrying a US $25 million bounty o his head for his role in the 9/11 twin tower attacks.
Zawahiri is an Egyptian surgeon who has been on the run for more than a decade. His death is the second major attack on al-Qaeda after the killing of Osama bin Laden. A drone strike hit the balcony of a safe house in Kabul where he was hiding. Kabul has confirmed his killing.
“Now justice has been delivered, and this terrorist leader is no more,” Biden was quoted saying by a White House official. “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.”
His death is expected to raise the issue of Afghanistan being used by the fugitives as a sanctuary.
Reports quoting US sources said the fugitive was being tracked for a long time, especially after his wife, daughter and children relocated to Kabul. He was seen on the balcony many times but ner left the residence.
The death of al-Zawahiri marks the conclusion of a long story that started with his arrest in 1981 in connection with the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat. A die-hard follower of Syed Qutub, he was in jail for three years for possessing arms illegally. Then he joined Afghan jihad with Pakistan as his base. An Egyptian military court in i1999 sentenced Zawahiri to death in absentia for attesting a regime change in Egypt.