STORY: The leader of al Qaeda was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan's capital over the weekend, according to President Joe Biden on Monday, in the biggest blow to the militant group since founder Osama bin Laden was killed eleven years ago.
"My fellow Americans, on Saturday at my direction, the United States successfully concluded an air strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed the emir of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri."
"None of his family members were hurt and there were no civilian casualties. I'm sharing this news with the American people now, after confirming the mission's total success through the painstaking work of our counterterrorism community and key allies and partners."
Zawahiri, an Egyptian surgeon who had a $25 million bounty on his head, succeeded bin Laden as al Qaeda leader, after years as its main organizer and strategist.
Zawahiri helped coordinate the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York City.
Biden also said he masterminded or played a key role in attacks on the USS Cole in the year 2000 that left 17 sailors dead, as well as on two African U.S. embassies two years prior which left hundreds dead and thousands more wounded.
"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."
A Taliban spokesman confirmed the weekend strike, and strongly condemned it.
That drone attack is the first known U.S. strike inside Afghanistan, since U.S. troops and diplomats left the country in 2021.
It could also solidify Washington's assurances that it can still address threats from Afghanistan, even without a military presence in the country.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers lauded the weekend's strike.
But Zawahiri's presence in Kabul now raises questions about whether he received sanctuary from the Taliban, after they swept back to power last year.
One U.S. official said senior Taliban officials were aware that Zawahiri was in Kabul, and said Washington expected the Taliban to abide by an agreement not to allow al Qaeda fighters to re-establish themselves in the country.