He was the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks: the US killed al-Qaeda boss Ayman al-Zawahiri
The US secret service CIA has killed the leader of the terrorist network al-Qaeda with a targeted drone attack. How it came about – and what his death means for the world.
The Americans were well informed about the daily routine of Ayman al-Zawahiri: As every morning, the successor to Osama Bin-Laden said his morning prayers on Tuesday, which was so fateful for him, and then he went onto the balcony of his house in the central Shirpur district of Go to Kabul to have a glass of tea. The combat drone that “tore to pieces” the 71-year-old Egyptian at 6:18 a.m. local time, according to eyewitness reports, had the nickname “Reaper”, in German Grim Reaper.
On his balcony in the White House, US President Joe Biden praised the targeted killing of the terror chief as an “act of justice”.
Most recently, he called for attacks on the West
The “Hakim” (doctor), as his followers called the ophthalmologist who was born in Cairo in 1951, posted his last message on the Internet on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. In it, the uncharismatic terrorist leader called for continued attacks on western states and their allies in the Middle East. Sawahiri is considered the central figure behind the September 11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.
There is video footage of bin Laden and his then-deputy in the Tora Bora cave complex in Afghanistan watching the collapse of the Twin Towers and having a great time. “We could not have expected that we would have such success,” Sawahiri said to his boss at the time, who then praised the Almighty with a transfigured expression.
Ayman al-Zawahiri also played a leading role in the preparations for the simultaneous terrorist attacks on the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam on August 7, 1988, in which nearly 250 people were killed.
If you look at his CV, there is initially little to indicate a career as a terrorist and hate preacher: Sawahiri comes from a famous Cairo family. His grandfather was the grand imam of the famous al-Azhar mosque, his uncle the first general secretary of the Arab League. His father Mohammed taught for the pharmacological faculty of Cairo University.
Ayman, who early on sympathized with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in Egypt, initially worked as a doctor in a poor district of Cairo. He became radicalized after the assassination attempt on Egyptian head of state Anwar al-Sadat in October 1981. At that time, Sawahiri was arrested as a suspected accomplice and tortured and beaten in prison for years. “This experience turned him into a fanatical and violent extremist,” says the Qatari television station Al-Jazeera, which interviewed both bin Laden and al-Zawahiri several times.
The Taliban welcomed al Qaeda
After capturing Kabul in the mid-1990s, the Taliban allowed al Qaeda’s leadership to move its headquarters to Afghanistan. It was the militant Haqqani network, which still dominates the Taliban leadership today, that advocated a “strategic alliance” with the pan-Arab terrorist organization – and is said to have recently found an apartment in Kabul for the apparently seriously ill Sawahiri.
Bin Laden’s successor had already been the target of an American drone attack in January 2006. He survived – and vowed in a video two months later that neither then-US President George W. Bush nor “all the powers in the world” could bring his “death one second closer”.
So it took more than 18 years until Ayman al-Zawahiri died. “His killing was a symbolic act,” judges the Middle East expert Andreas Böhm from the anthropological institute at the University of St.Gallen. And further:
“It is highly unlikely that the US intended the drone attack to have any particular effect or even prevent another terrorist attack by al-Qaeda.”
The terrorist organization had lost many supporters to the so-called “Islamic State” in recent years. The extremist group competing with al-Qaeda, says bin Laden biographer Behnam T. Said, who lives in Hamburg, is now much more effective and manages to “market its horrific terrorist attacks in a more striking way”.