“We went to Afghanistan almost 20 years ago with clear goals: get those who attacked us on September 11th, 2001, and make sure al Qaeda could not use Afghanistan as a base from which to attack us again. We did that. We severely degraded al Qaeda in Afghanistan.” — Old Joe Biden, lying again on August 16, 2021
Sure, he didn’t exactly say that al-Qaeda had been driven out of Afghanistan, but the international chief of al-Qaeda was living in Kabul. That’s not exactly “degraded.” Nor is there any indication that al-Qaeda cannot use Afghanistan as a base from which to attack us again.
Anyway, the killing of Zawahiri, if it really happened, isn’t going to change anything. Al-Qaeda was never a movement built around a charismatic leader, and it won’t dissipate because of Zawahiri’s death. It will choose another leader and go on. What’s more, Zawahiri was hardly a major presence in the last few years. The U.S. took out a man of the past. That’s just an attempt to score political points, not serious damage to the global jihad.
“Ayman al-Zawahiri: Shock in Kabul as US kills al-Qaeda leader,” by Lyse Doucet, BBC, August 2, 2022:
The first signs of an operation that was months in the making erupted when an attack rocked the centre of Kabul in the early hours of Sunday morning: we heard two thunderous blasts on our street nearby.
Speculation swirled around who or what had hit this “empty house” in Sherpur.
It is a neighbourhood which became notorious over the past two decades for its garish multi-storey villas, mocked by Kabul residents as the stronghold of corrupt warlords and officials, a gaudy symbol of the spoils of an ugly war.
Kabulis called it Choorpur, the town of thieves. The Taliban took over some of the empty villas, close to some high-walled Western embassies, which also slammed shut when the Taliban took charge.
With every day, new pieces of this puzzle surfaced: of a possible strike on an Islamic State target; the use of a US drone which raised even more questions; the involvement of US forces on the ground.
The mystery ended early on Tuesday morning.
As Kabul woke to the news that the US had killed the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a drone strike, we tried to approach the area on a main road leading into the street threading past Spinney’s luxury supermarket and the Afghan Ghazanfar bank.
A single Taliban guard angrily crossed his arms to warn us away….