(CNN Spanish) — Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday following a US drone strike, President Joe Biden said in a speech Monday night.
Al-Zawahiri was the successor to Osama bin Laden, whom the United States killed 11 years ago. Ayman al-Zawahiri at one point acted as bin Laden’s personal physician.
Biden said Saturday’s attack to take down the al Qaeda leader was the result of “extraordinary persistence and skill” by the intelligence community.
Next, we tell you how the mission to kill al-Zawahiri was reached.
This was the US operation. to finish off Ayman al-Zawahiri
- The attack was the product of months of secret planning between Biden and a narrow circle of his top advisers.
- Before attempting to kill al-Zawahiri, Biden wanted to fully understand where the al Qaeda leader stood.
- The US president commented that the US intelligence community located al-Zawahiri earlier this year. Biden was first briefed in April about al-Zawahiri’s location at a safe house in Kabul.
- Al-Zawahiri “has moved to downtown Kabul to meet with members of his immediate family,” Biden added.
- After finding al-Zawahiri’s location, various preparations were made, including the construction of a small-scale model of the al Qaeda leader’s safe house, built by intelligence officials and placed inside the Situation Room. of the White House for Biden to examine as he debated his options.
- US authorities had been aware of a network supporting the terror leader in Kabul for months and had identified his wife, daughter and sons through multiple intelligence streams.
- The women used terrorist “gadgets” that officials believed were designed to prevent anyone from following them to al-Zawahiri’s location in a Kabul neighborhood. Al-Zawahiri himself did not leave the site after his arrival this year.
- Months passed and the authorities began to record patterns in the house, such as al-Zawahiri’s periodic appearance on his balcony for very long periods of time. It should be noted that the US killed the al Qaeda leader while he was on his balcony.
- While the activities in the house were being monitored, a completely secret effort began to analyze the construction and structure of the building, with a view to developing an operation to take down the number 1 terrorist target in the world.
- The analysis had to include how to carry out an attack without compromising the structure of the house, since one of the most important points was not to cause civilian casualties, including members of al-Zawahiri’s family. In Saturday’s mission, the US government said, there were no civilian deaths, as was the case 11 months ago in a US drone strike during the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
- In May and June, Biden was aware of the preparations. Then, on July 1, he assembled key national security officials in the White House Situation Room to brief him on a proposed operation.
- The officials in that room were CIA Director Bill Burns; the director of national intelligence, Avril Haines; National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his deputy Jon Finer; and National Security Advisor Liz Sherwood Randall.
- That was when the officials explained the entire plan to Biden with the help of the scale house.
- The team met several times in the Situation Room over the next several weeks to complete their planning, answer questions from the president, and ensure they had taken all contingencies to minimize risks.
- At the time of this, they were also working with lawyers to establish the legal basis for the operation.
- On July 25, while isolating with covid-19 in the White House residence, Biden reconvened his team for a final briefing.
- The president asked, as on previous occasions, structural details of the house and everything related to avoid civilian casualties.
- On that day, Biden authorized a “precise, tailored airstrike” to finish off the target, which was carried out five days later.
- On Saturday, July 30, two Hellfire missiles were fired at the balcony of the safe house in Kabul at 6:18 am local time.
- “Multiple intelligence streams” confirmed that al-Zawahiri was dead.
With information from Natasha Bertrand, Kevin Liptak, Kylie Atwood, Larry Register, and Hamdi Alkhshali.