The US Assassination Of Al-Qaeda's Leader In Kabul Was Essential As Part Of Their Military Strategy

On August 30, 2021 marked the rise of Taliban control in the area and signaling the end of a 20-year-long war. This was concerning to the public for multiple reasons, primarily in what the Taliban would now do in power and for the safety of Afghan citizens. As The Guardian notes, the withdrawal was likened to the Fall of Saigon by many news outlets and political commentators, as both the Vietnam and Afghanistan wars had parallels in how the U.S failed to achieve its objectives.

Among the many terrorist groups in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda had strong presence. Of the faction, its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was one of the highest priority targets for the U.S military to take out. This goal was finally achieved on July 31, 2022, as Zawahiri was taken out by drone missiles, giving al-Qaeda a serious blow to its operations. As NPR explains, tensions between the U.S. and Taliban could rise after the murder, so it is unknown where things will go to next. But one thing is for sure: This was a crucial move for the U.S. military's goals against al-Qaeda. 

Who was Ayman al-Zawahiri

Born on June 19, 1951, Zawahiri was one of the most dangerous terrorists and important al-Qaeda leaders in existence. Zawahiri got his start as a medical student at Cairo University, studying to be a doctor. As Britannica notes, Zawahiri eventually did become a practicing physician. However, he had other plans in mind for his future. Zawahiri got involved with notable terrorists like Osama bin Laden back in the 1980s. This led to him being an instrumental member in the founding of al-Qaeda. 

Zawahiri had followed under Osama bin Laden until 2011, when bin Laden was killed in a raid by the U.S. military. Zawahiri was involved with a multitude of acts of terrorism like the 1998 United States Embassy bombings that took place in Kenya, Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, and Nairobi. Was also the key founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, another terrorist group responsible for violent actions towards the Egyptian government. As said by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Zawahiri had a price of $25 million on his head for his capture. 

The killing of Zawahiri marks a crucial victory against al-Qaeda for the U.S. military

When plotting the mission that would eventually take out Zawahiri, President Joe Biden and the Pentagon wanted to make one thing clear: No unnecessary casualties. As Politico states, the goal was not to kill Zawahiri's family or any other civilian. This plan succeeded as a drone commissioned by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was able to kill Zawahiri with two Hellfire missiles fired at his safe house in Kabul. This, as currently reported, did not kill anyone else but him, even though Zawahiri was with his family at the time. The reason for this is because Zawahiri was on a balcony. 

Terrorism in Afghanistan is a big problem. Ever since the U.S military was ousted from the region followed by Taliban takeover, many terrorist groups moved in, growing in both power and numbers. No one is sure about the direction these groups will take next, but it's clear that the U.S. government wants to put an end to these factions (via CNN).