Biden knocks out al-Qaeda leader over 9/11 attacks, gets media praise (mostly)

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It was without a doubt a victory for America and the world.

The drone strike that killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri took out one of the world’s most despicable terrorists, the intellectual force behind the group who, as Usama bin Laden’s number two, masterminded behind the September 11 attacks. 2001. And Zawahri carried out devastating attacks before that, including the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, prompting the Clinton administration to target him.

It was also a great victory for President Biden, and yet no one felt a sense of closure more than the families of the victims of 9/11. Zawahri was a central conspirator for the hijacked planes that toppled the World Trade Center, slammed into the Pentagon, and would have hit a third target had it not been for the bravery of the passengers over Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

That has completely changed our politics for years, plunging us into an era where we are not allowed to carry liquids on planes, passed homeland security laws and waged a 20-year war in Afghanistan.

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This was not a military operation of the kind that killed Usama bin Laden in 2011. Biden sat in the famous Situation Room photo as he, President Obama and other leaders waited for the results of the Navy SEAL attack. Although officials do not say this publicly, it was a CIA counter-terrorism operation. It took 11 years for Biden to authorize the strike that killed Zawahri on Saturday.

Zawahri’s gray-bearded face had become known to Americans when he took over Al-Qaeda and made a series of videos to convey terror messages. It’s true he was past his prime, but this was about responsibility.

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From a balcony of the White House, where he continues to be sidelined by COVID-19, Biden told the country: “The justice system has been struck and this terrorist leader is no more… We are making it clear again tonight that it is no matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you pose a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out.”

Biden deserves credit for the tough decision, as some Republicans acknowledged, but it won’t change the midterm elections. It will soon fade from the news and voters will remain focused on inflation, COVID-19 and other domestic issues. Even Obama only got a short-term bump for taking out bin Laden.

Now we come to a more complicated question.

Biden makes a strong case that his approach is justified after presiding over the worst foreign policy debacle in generations, the violent and chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. The president then said the US could conduct counter-terrorism missions even without boots on the ground — and the CIA operation proved him right, with reports that there were no civilian casualties.

But the Republicans take some pictures about the fact that Zawarhi was in Kabul at all. Under the Withdrawal Agreement — negotiated by Donald Trump in 2020 and later accepted by Biden — the Taliban pledged not to host any terrorist organization with international targets.

Is anyone really shocked that the Taliban, who claim to have had no idea of ​​Zawarhi’s presence, are lying? He lived in a luxurious house in an affluent gated community in the capital, not far from the US embassy. He returned after the Taliban takeover, dropped his vigilance and it took our intelligence service months to confirm his presence and his habit of spending time on his balcony, the spot where he was murdered after his family moved to another house. had moved to Kabul.

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Can anyone really doubt that the Taliban regime, which has also violated its human rights promises, is also shielding other Al Qaeda terrorists?

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Some conservatives are looting Biden for claiming that Al Qaeda’s presence is gone. But the Taliban takeover has clearly changed things.

That’s American politics. But the bigger point — that the last surviving 9/11 plotter has been held accountable for his heinous crimes — is what history will remember.

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