The United States conducted a “successful” counter-terrorism operation against a “significant” Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri in Afghanistan over the weekend, a senior administration official told Fox News.
President Joe Biden on Monday night at 7.30pm ET (9.30am AEST) is expected to address the nation from the White House on the operation.
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“Over the weekend, the United States conducted a counter-terrorism 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.
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.”
Mr Cheney served under former President George W. Bush, whose administration led the global war on terror after the attacks on September 11, 2001.
The Biden administration closed the US Embassy in Kabul and withdrew all military assets from Afghanistan on August 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?” Mr Biden said on August 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 General Mark Milley, last September, warned lawmakers that terror groups like Al Qaeda may be able to grow much faster following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, at the time, said that the focus of continued US military efforts in Afghanistan would be countering terrorist threats, not the Taliban.
Mr Austin said the US 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 US forces invaded the country in 2001.
Ayman Al Zawahiri appeared in a video last year commemorating 20 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks despite rumours that he died months earlier.
Al Zawahiri was appointed the successor to Osama bin Laden in June 2011, a month after the terrorist leader was shot and killed by US forces at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Fox News’ Andrew Murray and Jon Brown contributed to this report
This article originally appeared on Fox News and was reproduced with permission