A Statement on the killing of ayman al-zawahiri
We applaud President Biden’s decision to approve the airstrike that killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s deputy who helped plot and execute the attacks of September 11, 2001, and numerous other terrorist attacks. Today, the world is a safer place.
This airstrike does not, however, validate President Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. Public reporting indicates al-Zawahiri was residing in the home of Sirajuddin Haqqani, a senior Taliban leader, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Last year, Biden asked, “What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point with al-Qaeda gone?” The details of this operation remind us that al-Qaeda maintains close ties with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Some will seek to hold up this airstrike as conclusive evidence of the power of an “over-the-horizon” counterterrorism strategy. While effective at decapitating organizational leadership, a more comprehensive strategy remains critical to preventing Afghanistan from further becoming a terrorist safe haven and launching pad for external attacks.
As veterans of the Global War on Terror, we have fought in the wars that followed the attacks Ayman al-Zawahiri masterminded. We have seen—and experienced—firsthand the consequences of Islamist terrorism. Al-Zawahiri’s death is a vindication of all the hard work, dedication, and vigilance of those who have served since 9/11—and those who felt so betrayed by the surrender of Afghanistan. We are grateful to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces and intelligence community for remaining relentless—20-plus years later—in the pursuit of justice against terrorists who attacked or who threaten the American homeland.