It was a routine Sunday morning for Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda. He stepped out onto the balcony of his house in an exclusive neighborhood of Kabul around 6:15 a.m., as he usually did. Sometimes he would read while he was out there; other times he would just take in the morning air. But always, he was alone.
What al-Zawahiri didn’t know was that the CIA was watching him. The agency had been tracking his movements for months, and they knew his habits well. So when he stepped out onto the balcony that morning, they were ready. Within seconds, a Hellfire missile fired from a drone strike hit the building, and al-Zawahiri was killed.
In a White House address on Monday evening, President Biden announced the death of Zawahiri, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. Zawahiri was killed in a U.S. military operation in Syria. While this is a significant victory in the war on terror, it is important to remember that Zawahiri was only a figurehead in recent years. The real power lies with the network of affiliates in Africa and the Middle East. However, his death will hopefully disrupt the organization and hinder their ability to operate. This is a significant victory in the fight against terrorism and we will continue to work tirelessly to protect American lives.
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement condemning al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri for his recent trip to Afghanistan. Blinken pointed out that al-Zawahiri’s visit “grossly violated the Doha Agreement and repeated assurances to the world that they would not allow Afghan territory to be used by terrorists to threaten the security of other countries”. He went on to say that the US “remains committed to our partners in Afghanistan and the Afghan people” and that they “will continue to work with the Afghan government and people to ensure that Afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for terrorists”. The statement concluded by reaffirming the US’s commitment to defeating al-Qaida and its allies.
The type of missile used in the strike that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was key, with US officials stating that drone-fired Hellfires were used. The Hellfire is a type of air-to-surface missile that has been used extensively by the US in counter-terrorism operations since the 9/11 attacks. The missile can be fired from a variety of platforms, including helicopters, ground vehicles, ships and fixed wing aircraft – or, in bin Laden’s case, from an unmanned drone. The Hellfire is prized for its precision, and has been used in high-profile strikes such as the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in early 2020, and the British-born Islamic State jihadist known as “Jihadi John” in Syria in 2015. In the case of bin Laden, the Hellfire’s precision ensured that only he was killed in the strike, with no civilians harmed – making it a key weapon in the fight against terrorism.
The use of drones for military strikes has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, as the technology has advanced to allow for greater accuracy and precision. One of the key components of this process is the live video feed that is transmitted back to the weapons operator, who is often located thousands of miles away from the target. This video feed allows the operator to see the target in real-time and select the best point of impact. Additionally, the use of targeting brackets ensures that the missile will hit its intended target with a high degree of accuracy. As a result, drone-launched missiles have become a critical tool in modern warfare.
In recent years, the use of drones by the US military and CIA has come under intense scrutiny. Critics argue that the strikes are often indiscriminate, leading to the deaths of innocent civilians. While it is true that drone strikes have sometimes resulted in civilian casualties, it is important to remember that there are clear procedures in place to minimise the risk of such tragedies. Before taking any action, the crew operating the drone must follow a sequence of steps designed to protect innocents. This can include consulting with military lawyers and other experts to assess the risk of collateral damage. In the case of the strike that killed Zawahiri, it seems that these procedures were followed correctly and with great care. As a result, the chances of civilian casualties were minimised, and justice was served.
One of the most notable aspects of the R9X Hellfire is its ability to kill without causing extensive damage to nearby property. In 2017, Abu Khayr al-Masri, a leader of al-Qaeda, was killed by an R9X Hellfire while riding in a vehicle in Syria. The missile struck the vehicle’s roof, and while it did cause some shredding of the occupants, there was no explosion or further destruction to the vehicle. This type of strike is possible because the R9X Hellfire is equipped with six blades that deploy after impact, cutting through anything in their path. The fact that these blades can slice through metal and flesh without detonating makes them ideal for use in populated areas, as they minimize the risk of collateral damage. In addition, the R9X Hellfire is also equipped with a layer of Kevlar that helps to absorb some of the force of the impact, further reducing the risk of damage to nearby property.
The world’s closest ally of Osama Bin Laden
Ayman al-Zawahiri is the current leader of al-Qaeda, and he has a long history of terrorist activity. He was born in Egypt to a distinguished family; his grandfather was an imam at al-Azhar University, and his great-uncle was the first secretary of the Arab League. Zawahiri became involved in terrorism in the 1970s, when he joined the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. He eventually rose to be the leader of the group, and he played a key role in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981. In 1998, he merged his group with al-Qaeda, and he has been the leader of the terrorist organization ever since. Under his leadership, al-Qaeda has carried out numerous terrorist attacks, including the September 11th attacks in 2001. In a videotaped message released in 2002, al-Zawahiri celebrated the attacks and promised more “victories” in the future. Consequently, he is considered one of the most dangerous terrorists in the world today.