President Joe Biden announced Monday that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan over the weekend, per NBC News.
“Justice has been delivered. And this terrorist leader is no more,” Biden said during his address from the White House. “No matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide—if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out.”
al-Zawahiri, who was identified by Biden as a “mastermind” behind 9/11, had been seeking refuge in a shelter in a safe house in Kabul when the attack was carried out Saturday night. According to the New York Times, U.S. intelligence agencies spent several months determining al-Zawahiri’s exact whereabouts after he was located earlier this year. The Washington Post notes al-Zawahiri was a lifelong friend of bin Laden as well as his deputy and successor.
Officials believe al-Zawahiri returned to Afghanistan after the United States completed its withdrawal from the country in late August. His presence would be in violation of the Doha agreement between the U.S. and Taliban government, which forbade the latter from allowing Afghanistan to serve as a hiding place for members of al-Qaeda, in exchange for pulling out of the country.
The Taliban claim the United States violated their agreement by carrying out the strike, but Biden made it clear he will take the necessary steps when it comes to combating terrorism.
“Hear me now: we will always remain vigilant and we will act and we will always do what is necessary to ensure the safety and security of Americans at home and around the globe,” Biden said.