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Al-Qaeda Chief Killed in Us Drone Strike in Kabul

MG is a senior air warrior who has seen combat and is an alumnus of the Staff College and a writer on military matters.


The killing

There is momentous news and Joe Biden has gone on record and said that 'justice has been done. This refers to the recent killing of the leader of the Al-Qaeda group who was the successor to the notorious Osama bin Ladan namely Aman Al-Zawahiri.

Al-Qaeda is a terrorist organization that appeared on the scene more than two decades back with the ostensible aim of establishing an Islamic caliphate and their enemy was the United States. The earlier leader of this organization was Osama bin Laden who had been given refuge in Pakistan close to their military Academy at Abbottabad about a100 miles from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. He was staying in a safe house arranged by the Pakistan army's ISI service. The Americans were gunning for him and when Obama was president, the terrorist was located, and accordingly, a special navy Seal team flew in with helicopters and shot the terrorist dead. His body was taken away and his last rites were done on board a US warship and buried in the deep sea.

The leadership vacuum was filled by Aman Al-Zawahiri. He was initially in Pakistan but after the retreat of the US Army from Afghanistan, he was given a safe house in a posh locality in Kabul. It just about shows that the promise by the Taliban leadership that they would not offer refuge or help to terrorists is an eyewash. Probably he thought that he would be safe in Kabul under the aegis of the Taliban government.

Pakistan which is reeling under economic distress and looking for help from the World Bank and the USA was keen to atone for its past misdeeds. There is a possibility that information about Al- Zawahiri was passed to American intelligence which then started surveillance of the man.

Al-Zawahiri is an Egyptian Doctor Who had taken to terrorism and escaped to Afghanistan to fight what he considered the "great Satan" meaning the USA. He was at the helm along with Bin Laden in the attack on the trade towers and the Pentagon two decades back.

The terrorist who swore by Islam never expected that he would be killed in Kabul where he felt relatively safe. The 71-year-old leader was the target of a drone missile on the second of August and was killed. The beauty of the attack was that the US killed only the terrorist and not any of his family members and for this purpose, they used the special missile, the Hellfire R9X, that was fired from a drone.

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Precision strike

On the slated day a decision that was approved by President Joe Biden was executed. A special missile Hellfire 9x was fired from a drone. It has not been specified from where the drone took off but there is a possibility it could have taken off from Pakistan or from the US carrier in the Arabian Sea. In any case, it would overfly Pakistan.

The US wanted only Zawahiri dead and wanted no collateral damage like the killing of any neighbor or family member. It appears they used two Hellfire precision-guided missiles fired from an unmanned drone. The operation was a success: Zawahiri was the only person killed. It is surmised that America deployed a novel method to kill the Islamic terrorist that does not involve explosives at all.

The CIA might have used the Hellfire R9X — a highly secretive missile sometimes called the "knife bomb", the "ninja bomb" or the "flying Ginsu" because it uses a series of rapidly spinning blades to kill. Pictures show that there was no collateral damage to anybody or even the building but all the same the spinning blades would have been a painful death for the Al-Qaeda leader.

This missile has been used for specific targets and is a wonderful method to kill only the concerned terrorist and avoid any collateral damage. It has been used earlier in 2017 when Zawahiri's deputy Ahmad Hasan Abu Khayr al- Masri was killed while driving through Idlib province in Syria.

There are reports that the Al-Qaeda leader never ventured out of the house in the Sher colony in Kabul and occasionally appeared on the balcony only. He was under surveillance and one evening when he came out on the balcony, he paid with his life.


The death of Zawahiri doesn't mean the end of Islamic terrorism because one will recollect that after the death of Osama bin Laden a dangerous form of extremism in the form of ISIS came up and then there was Baghdadi who was also killed when dogs were unleashed on him in his secret hideout when Trump was the president.

Many have thought that the United States has lost the clout and the will to fight Islamic terrorism. but this act has shown that America does not forget its enemies. The leadership vacuum will soon be refilled and one hopes that another more dangerous form of Islamic terrorism does not surface.

© 2022 MG Singh emge

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