In Kabul, an American drone kills the leader of Al-Qaeda on his balcony
Dawn has already broken in Kabul on Sunday, an American drone flies over the Afghan capital and Ayman al-Zawahiri stands on the balcony of his house. By decision of Joe Biden and after years of tracking, two missiles are fired, the leader of Al-Qaeda is dead.
Around the house where his wife, daughter and grandchildren live, the traces of a strike are minimal, no explosion seems to have occurred, no other victims are known.
This attack is, according to the United States, the result of years of tracking, months of tracking and an airstrike in a summer sky.
Wanted for years by the American secret services, and even more so since the death in 2011 of Osama Bin Laden, whom he succeeded at the head of the terrorist organization, Ayman al-Zawahiri seemed to hide between Pakistan and the Afghanistan.
According to a senior American official, Washington spotted his family in 2022 in a house serving as a cache in the Afghan capital – from where the American army had withdrawn in disaster last August in the face of the Taliban’s takeover.
Intelligence work confirms in the months that follow the presence of Ayman al-Zawahiri himself on the spot. The Americans study the structure of the house, the risks for civilians, its way of life: it never goes out.
– Model presented at the White House –
“We have identified Zawahiri many times, and for long periods, on his balcony, where he was finally shot,” a senior US official said Monday evening, as Joe Biden announced the news from the White House.
During the preparation, in May and June, only a handful of American officials are kept in confidence.
On July 1, an operation project is presented to the Democratic president in the “Situation Room”, an ultra-secure room in the White House where, according to a photo that has become famous, Barack Obama was following the assault on bin Laden live in 2011. , Joe Biden, then vice-president, at his side.
Following this presentation, a model of the house is even brought to the president.
On July 25, the president – positive for COVID-19 – gathered his main advisers and “seeked to learn more about the organization of the rooms behind the door and the window on the third floor”. He asks everyone’s opinion then “authorizes a precise and tailor-made air strike,” according to a senior American official who requested anonymity.
At 6:18 a.m. Sunday morning, Kabul time, the temperature is about 17°C, the sun has been up for about an hour, the leader of Al-Qaeda is up.
“The strike was finally carried out (…) by an unmanned aircraft. Two Hellfire missiles (are fired at) Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is killed,” said a senior US official. “He was killed on the balcony.”
– Secret missile –
He adds that, “according to multiple intelligence sources”, it was he who died, and he alone.
Not his relatives living a few meters away, no civilians. The Taliban, who control the country, then told AFP that a rocket hit an empty house in the affluent residential area of Sherpur without causing any casualties.
According to Washington, the operation did not require any military personnel on the ground in Kabul.
These multiple elements suggest the use, by the United States, of a weapon whose very existence has never been confirmed: the Hellfire R9X “flying ginsu” missiles, named after an American brand of knives inspired by the Japan.
This modified version of the American missile would be devoid of explosive charge but equipped with six blades which deploy before impact to cut its target without blast effect.
A photo of a suspected target’s car in Syria in 2017 shows a huge hole in the roof of the vehicle, the interior shredded, but the front and rear intact.
“This mission was carefully prepared”, welcomed Joe Biden in his speech, and it was “a success.”
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