Al-Qaida leader killed in US strike

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Al-Qaida leader killed in US strike

Al-Qaida's top leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a US drone strike in Afghanistan, US media reported on Monday, citing officials.

The reports came ahead of a planned address by US President Joe Biden, who is due to hold a speech later in the evening, reported DW, quoting news agencies AP, Reuters and AFP.

The Associated Press and Reuters news agencies reported, citing unnamed sources, that the US carried out the strike over the weekend, but delayed releasing the information until his death could be confirmed.

White House officials did not immediately confirm that al-Zawahiri was killed but said that Biden would speak about a "successful'' counterterrorism operation against a significant al-Qaida target. They added that "there were no civilian casualties.''

Al-Zawahiri has led al-Qaida since the militant group's founder was killed in a US operation in Pakistan in 2011.

What did Afghan officials say?

Over the weekend, the Taliban's Interior Ministry initially denied reports of a drone strike in Kabul.

But Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said early Tuesday that an "aerial attack" was carried out on a residence in the Sherpur area of the capital.

"The nature of the incident was not revealed at first. The security and intelligence agencies of the Islamic Emirate investigated the incident and found in their preliminary investigations that the attack was carried out by American drones," Mujahid wrote on Twitter.

Who is Ayman al-Zawahiri?

The Egyptian surgeon was identified as a mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US that killed nearly 3,000 people.

The al-Qaida chief was born in 1951 to a prominent upper-class family in Cairo.

As a teenager, he joined the banned Islamist group Muslim Brotherhood.

He was among hundreds arrested and accused of involvement in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981.

Although he was cleared of the charge, he spent three years in an Egyptian prison on charges of weapons possession — an experience that is said to have further radicalized him.

He traveled to Afghanistan after his release, where he got to know bin Laden and participated in the battle against Soviet troops.

Al-Zawahiri, a medical doctor, is believed to have forged a strong bond with bin Laden in the late 1980s when he treated him in the caves of Afghanistan amid Soviet bombardment.

He rose to become second-in-command of al-Qaida in 1998.

Since the killing of bin Laden by US forces in 2011, al-Zawahiri topped the list of most-wanted fugitives by the FBI, with a $25 million (€24.3 million) bounty on his head.

Al-Qaida leader killed in US strike

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