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It was, no query, a victory for America and the world.
The drone strike that killed Ayman al-Zawahri, the chief of al Qaeda, took out one of many world’s most despicable terrorists, the mental drive behind the group who, as Usama bin Laden’s quantity two, helped mastermind the assaults of Sept. 11, 2001. And Zawahri pulled off devastating assaults earlier than that, together with the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, which prompted the Clinton administration to focus on him.
It was additionally an enormous win for President Biden, and but nobody felt extra of a way of closure than the households of the 9/11 victims. Zawahri was a central plotter for the hijacked airplanes that toppled the World Commerce Middle, slammed into the Pentagon, and would have struck a 3rd goal if not for the bravery of passengers above Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
That completely remodeled our politics for years, plunging us into an age of not bringing liquids on airplanes, passing homeland safety legal guidelines and waging a 20-year warfare in Afghanistan.
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This was not a navy operation of the type that killed Usama bin Laden in 2011, with Biden sitting within the well-known State of affairs Room photograph as he, President Obama and different leaders waited for the outcomes of the Navy SEAL raid. Whereas officers aren’t saying this publicly, it was a CIA counterterrorism operation. It took one other 11 years for Biden to authorize the strike that killed Zawahri on Saturday.
Zawahri’s gray-bearded visage had change into acquainted to People when he took over al Qaeda and made a collection of movies to ship terror messages. It’s true he was previous his prime, however this was about accountability.
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From a White Home balcony, the place he’s nonetheless sidelined by COVID-19, Biden advised the nation: “Justice has been delivered, and this terrorist chief isn’t any extra… We make it clear once more tonight that irrespective of how lengthy it takes, irrespective of the place you disguise, if you’re a risk to our individuals, the USA will discover you and take you out.”
Biden deserves credit score for the robust name, as some Republicans acknowledged, however this isn’t going to remodel the midterms. It would quickly fade from the information with voters remaining targeted on inflation, COVID-19 and different home points. Even Obama solely bought a short-term bump for taking out bin Laden.
Now we come to a extra sophisticated query.
Biden has a powerful argument that his strategy has been vindicated after he presided over the worst overseas coverage debacle in generations, the violent and chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. The president stated then that the U.S. may conduct counterterrorism missions even with out boots on the bottom – and the CIA operation proved him proper, with reviews of no civilian casualties.
However Republicans are taking some photographs over the truth that Zawarhi was in Kabul in any respect. Beneath the withdrawal deal – negotiated by Donald Trump in 2020, and later accepted by Biden – the Taliban pledged to not harbor any terror group with worldwide goals.
Is anybody actually shocked that the Taliban, which declare to have had no concept of Zawarhi’s presence, are mendacity? He lived in an expensive house in a rich gated group within the capital, not removed from the U.S. Embassy. He returned after the Taliban takeover, let down his guard, and it took our intelligence service months to substantiate his presence and his observe of spending time on his balcony, the spot the place he was killed – after his household moved to a different Kabul house.
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Can anybody actually doubt that the Taliban regime, which has additionally flouted its guarantees on human rights, is shielding different al Qaeda terrorists as effectively?
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Some conservatives are ripping Biden for claiming al Qaeda’s presence had vanished. However the Taliban takeover clearly modified issues.
That’s American politics. However the bigger level – that the final remaining 9/11 plotter has been held accountable for his heinous crimes – is what historical past will bear in mind.