Families of 9/11 victims celebrate death of Al Qaeda boss al-Zawahiri

‘It was a long day coming’: Families of 9/11 victims celebrate death of Al Qaeda boss Ayman al-Zawahiri after he was taken out in a US drone strike

  • The families of 9/11 victims celebrate the death of Al Qaeda leader in Kabul 
  • Biden confirmed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a CIA drone strike this weekend 
  • The 9/11 mastermind was hit by two Hellfire missiles fitted with extended blades while standing on a balcony
  • Al-Zawahiri was Osama Bin Laden’s number two and is behind the deaths of thousands of Americans
  • ‘Now, justice has been delivered, and this terrorist leader is no more,’ Biden said in his White House speech
  • Read more: The six-blade R9X US Hellfire Ninja missiles used to kill Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri 

The families of those murdered in the 9/11 terrorist attack are today celebrating the death of al Qaeda leader’s Ayman al-Zawahi who was killed in a CIA drone strike.

Al-Zawahiri, 71, Osama Bin Laden’s fanatical deputy who helped mastermind multiple attacks including 9/11, was killed by two Hellfire ‘Ninja’ missiles whilst he stood on a balcony of his safe house in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul this weekend.

Former President George W. Bush’s senior adviser Brad Blakeman, whose nephew – a first responder – was killed in 9/11 said Al-Zawahiri’s death was ‘a long time coming’.

Blakeman’s nephew, former Army medic Thomas Jurgens, was a New York court officer at the time and after the first plane hit the Twin Towers, he filled a jury van with first aid supplies and drove to the chaotic scene. But Jurgens died after the second plane hit and his body was never recovered. 

Speaking of Al-Zawahiri’s killing, Blakeman told Fox News: ‘It was a long day in coming. It should have been done a long time ago if we had had the opportunity.’

‘What really dismays me is the fact that why is the United States always the one to take action against the terrorists when they’re harbored in sovereign countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan in the case of (Osama) bin Laden? Why are these countries giving safe haven to … these murderers and terrorists,’ he said. 

Former President George W. Bush’s senior adviser Brad Blakeman, whose nephew – a first responder – was killed in 9/11 said Al-Zawahiri’s death was ‘a long time coming’

Patrick Dowdell, whose father FDNY Lt. Kevin Dowdell, was among 342 other members of the FDNY to die on 9/11

His brother, James Dowdell (third left front) said: ‘Thank God for the military,’ upon hearing of al-Zawahiri’s death. ‘They’re still getting it done’

FDNY Lt. Kevin Dowdell, who died on 9/11, left behind two sons, Patrick and James Dowdell

‘So, while I thank the US for taking such bold action, I’m mad as hell that these countries are harboring these horrible people.’ 

Firefighter James Dowdell was in the quarters of Rescue Co. 2 in Brooklyn when he got word of the death of the most wanted fugitive in the murder of his father, FDNY Lt. Kevin Dowdell, and 342 other members of the FDNY on 9/11.

‘Thank God for the military,’ he told the Daily Beast. ‘They’re still getting it done.’

The news that Ayman al-Zawahiri had been killed came just as the younger of fallen Kevin Dowdell’s two sons was beginning to feel that people were forgetting about 9/11.

His older brother, Patrick Dowdell, was in the military and deploying to serve in Afghanistan. He is now working in sales and cybersecurity. He was at home with his young family when a friend called to make sure he had heard about Zawahiri.

‘We always say, ‘Never forget,’ Patrick said. ‘The government as a whole, it’s good to see that they don’t. They’re still going after the bad guys.’

Despite the elation the brothers felt at the news of al-Zawahiri’s death, it did not compare to their celebrations at the the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011.

On that day the Dowdell brothers went down to Ground Zero and join a crowd in chanting, ‘U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!’    

Alice M. Greenwald, president and CEO of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, remarked that Zawahiri’s death ‘demonstrates how the 9/11 story continues to evolve, even 21 years later, and reinforces the need for us to keep educating younger generations about the continued impact of 9/11 on the world we live in today.’   

Alice M. Greenwald, president and CEO of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, remarked that Zawahiri’s death ‘demonstrates how the 9/11 story continues to evolve, even 21 years later’

A list of missing firefighters was released by the Fire Department of New York City in the days after 9/11

Al-Zawahiri was killed as he stood on the balcony of his safe house in a wealthy area of downtown Kabul this weekend in a mission that took six months to plan.

His wife, daughter, and grandchildren were living with him at the time of his death but were not harmed, American officials said. The home targeted in the strike was owned by a top aide to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Interior Minister for the Taliban, who is close to senior al Qaeda officials and is wanted by the FBI for questioning. 

In a grim and ironic twist, it was the Taliban harboring of Al-Qaeda terrorists that prompted the US to go into the country originally in 2001. US and NATO forces pulled out of Afghanistan in chaotic fashion a year ago last August, handing the country back to the Taliban.

President Joe Biden repeatedly invoked the September 11th terrorist attacks when he announced the CIA drone strike killed al Qaeda leader’s Ayman al-Zawahiri. 

‘Now, justice has been delivered, and this terrorist leader is no more,’ he said. ‘We made it clear again tonight that 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.’

Biden laid out al-Zawahiri’s role in the terrorist organization, noting that, in addition to the 9/11 attacks, he was behind the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 and the attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

‘He carved a trail of murder and violence against American citizens, American service members, American diplomats, and American interests,’ Biden said.

Biden concluded his remarks with a warning: ‘To those around the world who continue to seek to harm the United States, 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.’

It was the United State’s most significant strike against al Qaeda since the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011. Al-Zawahiri replaced bin Laden as the terrorist group’s top leader.

Biden, who remains in isolation after a rebound case of COVID, made his address from the first floor balcony off the Blue Room of the White House.

Al-Zawahiri was on the FBI’s most-wanted terrorist list. There was a $25 million reward for information leading directly to him.

Elsewhere in the deadly attack:

  • The Taliban condemned the air strike in a statement and claimed that it ‘violated international principles’;
  • The heir apparent to al-Qaeda after the killing emerged as canny, military-trained operative Saif al-Adel;
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, alleged Biden allowed the group to re-emerge.


President Joe Biden on Monday evening announced a CIA drone strike killed al Qaeda leader’s Ayman al-Zawahiri (pictured right earlier this year), Osama Bin Laden’s fanatical deputy who was the mastermind behind multiple attacks over the last two decades that have left thousands of Americans dead 

Al-Zawahiri, 71, was killed by two Hellfire ‘Ninja’ missiles – fitted with extending blades – fired from CIA drones as he stood on the balcony of his safe house

Al-Zawahiri was Bin Laden’s No 2 in Al-Qaeda, the radical jihadist network once led by the Saudi millionaire. The two are seen above in this September 2006 file photo. Al-Zawahiri took over the organization after Bin Laden was killed in a SEAL team raid in 2011, but he was being hunted by the U.S. as far back as 1998 

 Al-Zawahiri, 71, was in a safehouse in Sherpur, a wealthy area of downtown Kabul that’s home to multiple Taliban officials, when he was taken out in the drone strike

The terrorist leader was killed by two Hellfire missiles – fitted with extending blades – fired from CIA drones in a mission that took six months to plan. U.S. officials didn’t confirm the model, but it is believed they used the R9X ‘Ninja’ missile that don’t have explosives and limit collateral damage

From 9/11 to death on his balcony: How US tracked and killed Zawahiri 

Sept. 11, 2001 – Attack on twin towers of the World Trade Center. Al-Zawahiri is Osama bin Laden’s top deputy and widely credited with masterminding the attack

May 2, 2011 – Successful US operation to take out bin Laden at compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan 

2011 – Al-Zawahiri succeeds bin Laden following the successful U.S. operation to take out world’s top terror leader. US intelligence over several months gains ‘increased confidence’ terror leader’s family has relocated to a safe house

Early April – Top security staffers are informed of ‘developing intelligence’. Shortly thereafter, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan briefs President Biden 

US officials develop ‘pattern of life’ for Al-Zawahiri. Al-Zawahiri arrives at the safe house location; US not aware of him ever leaving after he arrived 

Al-Zawahiri continues to crank out videos attacking the US and allies.

The US then investigates ‘construction and nature of the safe house’ and building integrity so the strike could kill the terror leader without endangering civilians.

Officials undertake operation to determine the identity of all the people in the safe house. Officials ‘systematically eliminated all reasonable options’ other than a strike.

Officials hold a series of ‘close-hold’ briefing to vet intelligence. ‘Key’ agencies are brought into the process to make sure information is ‘rock solid’ and develop alternatives and minimize risks to civilians 

During the last few weeks of this period, Biden convenes several meetings with advisors and cabinet members to scrutinize intelligence

May and June – Biden receives updates

July 1 – Biden is briefed on a proposed operation in the White House Situation Room by key members of his cabinet. Attending are CIA Director William Burns, counterterrorism experts, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, and National Counterterrorism Center Director Christine Abizaid, national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Finer

Biden examines a model that was constructed of the safe house inside the Situation Room. Biden requests further information on building plans and likely effects of a strike. Directs intel community to prepare impact analyses. Asks intel to consider risks to Mark Randall Frerichs, an American who disappeared in Afghanistan in 2020, impact on future access to Afghan air space, and on efforts to evacuate Afghan partners

June and July – Principals and deputies convene in Situation Room multiple times to ‘test the intelligence picture’. ‘Tight circle’ of agency lawyers confirms legal basis. They conclude al-Zawahiri is a lawful target.

Biden asks all present for their view. ‘All strongly recommended approval of this target’ 

July 25 – Biden convenes advisors and key cabinet for final meeting on updated intel. Asks again about other options, the layout of rooms, and impacts. At the end of the meeting, Biden ‘authorized a precise tailored airstrikes on the condition that have strike minimize, to the greatest extent possible the risk of civilian casualties.’ 

 July 30, 9:48 pm EDT – US undertakes ‘precision counterterrorism operation in Kabul’ to take out al-Zawahiri 

In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that a strike took place and strongly condemned it, calling it a violation of ‘international principles.’ 

The strike was conducted on a residential house in Kabul’s Sherpur area, a wealthy downtown neighborhood where several Taliban government officials live.

Al-Zawahiri was standing on the balcony of the three-story home when two R9X missiles – a hellfire missile armed with long blades aimed at killing targets with kinetic energy to minimize major collateral damage – struck. 

The hellfire missiles were developed for precision drone strikes and are often used against high-value targets. 

The strike was carried out in the early morning hours of Sunday Kabul time – 6:18 am there and 9:48 pm Saturday night in the United States after U.S. intelligence officials learned al-Zawahiri moved to Afghanistan in the last year.

‘This year we identified that al-Zawahiri family his wife, his daughter, and her children relocated to a safe house in Kabul,’ a senior administration official told reporters on a background briefing call ahead of Biden’s speech.

Al-Zawahiri was never seen leaving that safe house, the official said.

The official said only al-Zawahiri was killed and that members of the Haqqani network, a terrorist group that is part of the Taliban government, removed his family from the safe house ‘to another location consistent with a broader effort to cover up that they had been living in the space.’

‘Al-Zawahiri family members were present in other parts of the safe house at the time of the strike, and were purposefully not targeted and were unharmed,’ the official said.

Biden was first briefed on Al-Zawahiri’s location on July 1. The official described their intelligence as ‘rock solid.’

The official said Biden asked ‘detailed questions’ on their intelligence, examined a model of the house that intelligence officials built and brought into the Situation Room for him to see, and asked about the possibility of civilian casualties.

On July 25th, Biden made the decision to authorize the strike.

‘He was particularly focused on ensuring that every step had been taken to ensure the operation would minimize that risk. And he wanted to understand the basis upon which we had confidence in our assessments. The President requested further information on the building plans and about likely effects of a strike,’ the official said.

Biden was in isolation with his rebound case of covid when the strike was carried out but was kept informed when it began and when it ended, the official noted.

The Biden administration also made clear they expect the Taliban to abide by the terms of the Doha agreement, which outlined the terms for the American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, and that al-Zawahiri’s presence in the Afghan capitol city was a ‘clear violation’ of the agreement.

‘Obviously this is a very important point for us to make clear that follow up on that we expect them to abide by the terms of the Doha agreement, and the presence of al-Zawahiri in downtown Kabul with a clear violation of that,’ the official said.

‘Going forward with the Taliban, we will continue to hold them accountable for their actions,’ the officials.

‘We will take action to protect our interests, pursuant to the terms of the agreement, which is firm that it al Qaeda should never be allowed to re-establish itself in Afghanistan.’

It was the first attack in Afghanistan since American forces left last year. It took six months to plan.

Biden was in isolation with his rebound case of covid when the strike was carried out but was kept informed when it began and when it ended, the official noted

Al-Zawarihi and his family were living at home in Kabul owned by Taliban Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani (above)

Al-Zawahiri’s FBI wanted poster – there was a $25 million reward for information on him

Fanatical ideologue whose new brand of terror prized massacring innocents: Ayman al-Zawahiri inspired Bin Laden to attack the US and wanted Al-Qaeda to get NUCLEAR weapons 

Al Quaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri in a recorded message

Osama bin Laden’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has been killed by a CIA drone strike, led a new brand of terror that prized massacring innocents, having inspired the former leader to gather nuclear and biological weapons.

Al-Zawahiri, who took over Al-Qaeda after Bin Laden’s death in 2011, was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan following the US strike.

The terrorist leader is said to have guided al-Qaeda to become one of the biggest radical movements, having been identified as a mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States that killed nearly 3,000 people. At 15, the Egyptian spearheaded his own militant group, Jamaat al-Jihad, that championed large-scale attacks and the murder of civilians.

As it grew, he later merged it with al-Qaeda in the 1990s, bringing this focus on indiscriminate killing to the terrorist group. The 71-year-old was on the FBI’s most-wanted terrorist list, having declared the US ‘the far enemy’, with a $25 million reward for information leading directly to him. The surgeon, also called The Doctor, led a terrorist lab developing biological weapons and was the force behind al-Qaeda’s ambition to gain nuclear weapons.

‘To kill Americans and their allies — civilian and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in every country in which it is possible to do it, al-Zawahiri wrote in a 1998 manifesto. Three years later, he helped to plan the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. As part of this, al-Zawahiri was planned follow-on attacks across the US, and started a biological weapons program in Afghanistan. He sent group disciples out to find lethal strains of anthrax and scientists that would engage with his plans. 

However the Egyptian abandoned the biological weapons laboratory after a US-backed military effort forced Taliban allies of al-Qaeda out of power in Afghanistan. His own militant group began when he was 15, having organized an underground cell of friends to overthrow Egypt’s Islamic theocracy and government, after it executed Qutb in 1966.

This cell grew to become the Jihad Group, which plotted the assassination of Egyptian leaders in the early 1980s, and was also involved in the killing of the country’s president, Anwar Sadat on October 6, 1981, the Washington Post reported. ‘We have sacrificed and we are still ready for more sacrifices until the victory of Islam,’ he shouted in the courtroom. 

He was briefly jailed for three years for the possession of arms, having been acquitted of the main charges. Later, he claimed to have been tortured while behind bars. After his release, he began touring South Asia and became the personal doctor to Bin Laden. In 1997, while living in Afghanistan, al-Zawahiri was involved in planning an attack on Egyptian tourists visiting the Luxor ruins.

President Biden, in his remarks, said the drone strike on al-Zawahiiri was evidence that he was right when he told Americans last summer that removing all US troops from Afghanistan would not undermine the United States’ ability to fight terrorism. 

‘When I ended our military mission in Afghanistan almost a year ago, I made the decision that after 20 years of war, the United States no longer needed thousands of boots on the ground in Afghanistan, to protect America from terrorists who seek to do us harm.

‘And I made a promise to the American people that we would continue to conduct effective counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and beyond. We’ve done just that,’ he said.

Al-Zawahiri took over al Qaeda after bin Laden’s death in 2011, when bin Laden was killed in a raid by U.S. forces in Pakistan in 2011.

In 1998, he was indicted for his alleged role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. 

On August 7, 1998, nearly simultaneous bombs blew up in front of the American embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in Africa – 224 people died in the blasts, including 12 Americans, and more than 4,500 people were wounded.

Both he and bin Laden escaped U.S. forces in Afghanistan in late 2001. 

Zawahiri’s whereabouts had long been a mystery.  Rumors have spread since late 2020 that al-Zawahiri had died from illness.

But he appeared in a new video in April, where he denounced the ‘enemies of Islam.’

He appeared after a school in India banned the wearing of the hijab. 

Before April, Al-Zawahiri last appeared in a video last year marking the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, months after thee rumors spread that he was dead.

In that video, he proclaimed ‘Jerusalem will never be Judaized’ and praised al-Qaeda attacks – including one that targeted Russian troops in Syria in January 2021. SITE said al-Zawahiri also noted the US military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan 20 years after the invasion.

Al-Zawahiri was born in Egypt in 1951 and worked as a surgeon.

He grew up in an upper-class neighborhood in Cairo, Egypt, the son of a prominent physician and grandson of famous scholars.

An Islamic fundamentalist, al-Zawahiri joined the outlawed Egyptian Islamic Jihad group as a teenager, being jailed twice for helping plot assassinations of two Egyptian leaders.

He eventually became the group’s leader, which was dedicated to the creation of an Islamic state in Egypt, and in the 1980s he joined Mujahedeen fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

There he befriended and joined forces with bin Laden, becoming his personal physician.

He formally merged his group, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, with al Qaeda in 1998. 

The two men later issued a fatwa, or decree, that said: ‘The judgment to kill and fight Americans and their allies, whether civilians or military, is an obligation for every Muslim.’ 

Al-Zawahiri’s slaying has sparked questions as to whether the Taliban has welcomed the terrorist group back in, having previously developed ties with the terrorist group in the late 1990s and early 2000s.  

Speculation is rising as to whether his living arrangements with Taliban interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani could create further difficulties for the West’s relations with Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

Smoke rises from the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in this frame grabe from TV, after a suspected car bomb exploded outside in 1998; al-Zawahiri was indicted for his alleged role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya

Armed US Marines stand guard by the US embassy entrance in Nairobi in 1998 as FBI agents gather evidence in the bombing

U.S. military pall bearers carry the first five flag-draped coffins of 10 Americans killed in the bombings at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, during a memorial service at Andrews Air Force Base in 1998

Republicans are slamming President Joe Biden for applauding the killing of Al Qaeda’s top leader, alleging his ‘disastrous withdrawal’ from Afghanistan paved the way for the group’s resurgence.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy blamed Biden’s botched exit from the Taliban-ruled country on the ‘possible re-emergence of Al Qaeda,’ alleging the US must take action to prevent terrorists from entering the nation.

GOP Sen. Marjorie Taylor Greene echoed McCarthy’s sentiment saying that even Americans will be glad Zawahiri is dead, ‘Joe’s victory lap is ridiculous.’

Biden’s critics allege the drone strike demonstrates the president’s failure to combat terrorism and his blatant lies to the American people, citing previous statements he made claiming Al Qaeda was not present in Afghanistan.

‘Today is further proof that our United States Military and Intelligence Community personnel will not stop pursuing those who threaten the United States of America and our interests,’ McCarthy said in a statement to DailyMail.com.

‘This news also sheds light on the possible re-emergence of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan following President Biden’s disastrous withdrawal a year ago,’ he continued.

‘The Biden administration must provide Congress with a classified briefing as soon as possible to discuss the resurgence of Al Qaeda in the region over the past year, the current foreign terrorist threat to America, and the steps we must take to keep our country safe and prevent terrorists from entering the United States.’ 

It comes as US President Joe Biden’s officials said that Haqqani Network leaders knew al-Zawahiri was living in Kabul.

‘Immediately after the strike, Haqqani operatives sealed off the area and relocated Zawahiri’s relatives. A damning indictment of Taliban credibility,’ said director of the Middle East Institute, Charles Lister.

It may add further credibility to recent intelligence claims from the US that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the official name of the Taliban government, has allowed al-Qaeda to re-emerge in Afghanistan, after taking over the country last year.

In June, UN security intelligence experts revealed that al-Qaeda was enjoying a ‘safe haven’ in Afghanistan under the Taliban and warned the country could become a base for international terrorist attacks once again.

Following the drone strike location reveal, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said: ‘This news sheds light on the possible re-emergence of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan following President Biden’s disastrous withdrawal a year ago.

‘The Biden administration must provide Congress with a classified briefing as soon as possible to discuss the resurgence of al-Qaeda in the region over the past year, the current foreign terrorist threat to America, and the steps we must take to keep our country safe and prevent terrorists from entering the United States.

Bill Roggio, military commentator and managing editor of The Long War Journal, warned DailyMail.com ahead of the address that Biden would tout Zawahiri’s death as a victory.

‘The message tonight is going to be that this was a huge counter-terrorism success. But really this means that al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan and never left.’ Roggio said.

He also cautioned there is more concern the Taliban is again harboring al-Qaeda.

‘The big lie the Biden Administration told us to get out of Afghanistan was that al-Qaeda was gone,’ Roggio explained. ‘It is likely the US got Zawahiri because was over confident and operating in Kabul.

‘He wasn’t hiding out in the mountains. We’re hearing that he was being sheltered by a top Taliban deputy. The Biden Administration is going to tout this as some victory of their ‘over-the-horizon’ capabilities, but that’s the spin.’

Is this Al-Qaeda’s next terror chief? Secretive heir apparent who ‘oversaw Black Hawk Down operation’ and helped carry out 9/11 attacks is poised to take over 

Pictured in just one of three published photos, al-Adel is the likely successor to the al-Qaeda throne. He is credited with masterminding the bombings of three US embassies in 1998 as well as playing a key role in the notorious ‘Black Hawk Down’ plot

The heir apparent to the al-Qaeda throne after tonight’s confirmed death of Ayman al-Zawahiri is a canny, military-trained operative with experience killing British and American soldiers. 

Egyptian ex-army officer Saif al-Adel was a founding member of al-Qaeda, having joined pre-cursor terrorist group Maktab al-Khidamat in the late-1980s.

There he met future allies Osama bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, whose separate group Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) he would soon join.

Little else is known about Saif al-Adel, who at around 60 years of age is one of the younger al-Qaeda bosses.

Al-Adel was around 30 when he oversaw the infamous ‘Black Hawk Down’ operation in Mogadishu, Somalia, in which 19 American soldiers were killed and had their bodies dragged through the streets.

Seven more were slain when two helicopters were shot down in the east Africa ambush, including two British soldiers, three Turks and a Frenchman.

And since the assassination of Osama bin Laden in 2011, al-Adel has become an increasingly important strategist within the depleting terror cell.

The only thing standing in his way to become the next al-Qaeda leader is that he is likely stuck in Iran – and may well have been for the past 19 years.

In 2003, Iranian Ambassador to the UN Javad Zarif refused to confirm nor deny whether al-Adel was being held in the country. 

He told ABC News that terrorists tend to have multiple passports, with the Iranian government unable to confirm their identities.

With what’s left of al-Qaeda now based in Afghanistan – and in coexistence with the Taliban – al-Adel’s geographic isolation could stop him taking the helm, foreign policy analyst Charles Lister suggested tonight.

With his real name thought to be Mohammed Salah al-Din Zaidan, al-Adel’s made-up moniker translates to ‘Sword of Justice’.

Thought not as brainwashed by Islamist ideology as his al-Qaeda colleagues, al-Adel used his military training to rise to the top of the shadowy organization in the wake of the September 11 attacks, in which senior operatives killed themselves.

Al-Adel was in fact against the so-called ‘Planes Operation’, as it was known by members of the terror cell.

Al-Adel is pictured (centre) on an al-Qaeda who’s who published in 2005. Osama bin Laden is pictured top-left, with al-Zawahiri to his right and Mullah Omar to the right of al-Zawahiri. Saif is now one of the only original al-Qaeda leaders still alive

The FBI Most Wanted poster on Al-Adel states the reward of up to $10million for information

Al-Adel has risen to the top of al-Qaeda as much because of his own talents as by the United States’ ruthlessness in killing his superiors

But he helped organize the single most deadly terrorist attack in history after bin Laden became committed to the idea.

According to ex-FBI agent and counter-terrorism expert Ali Soufan, who suggested al-Adel would be ‘al-Qaeda’s next leader’ last year, Saif possesses a ‘poker face’ and a ‘caustic tongue’.

When training young soldiers, he was known to kidnap them in the middle of the night and conduct savage beatings in order to harden the troops.

Al-Adel has risen to the top of al-Qaeda as much because of his own talents as by the United States’ ruthlessness in killing his superiors.

Osama’s assumed successor son Hamza was killed in 2019 and fellow senior strategist Abu Muhammad al-Masri was assassinated in 2020. 

US intelligence states: ‘Al-Adel is wanted in connection with the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya.’

Two hundred and twenty-four people died in the three East Africa blasts, including 12 Americans, with more than 4,500 people wounded.

A $10million reward for information has been placed on al-Adel’s head.

And with ex-leader al-Zawahiri now slain, the attention of America’s terrorist hunters will likely go onto Saif al-Adel.

Al-Zawahiri, who took over Al-Qaeda after Bin Laden’s death in 2011, was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan following a US airstrike this evening.

The terrorist leader is said to have guided Al-Qaeda to become one of the biggest radical movements, having been identified as a mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States that killed nearly 3,000 people.

The six-blade ‘ninja missile’ used to mince terrorists: CIA deployed two R9X Hellfires to shred Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri – a month after it was used to wipe out ISIS thug in Syria

Al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri became the latest victim of the feared Hellfire Ninja R9X missile that uses pop-out swords rather than an explosive to take down high profile targets, according to military experts. 

Al-Zawahiri was killed in a drone strike in the Shirpur neighborhood of the Afghani capital of Kabul on Saturday, according to President Joe Biden.

The terrorist leader was 71 years old. 

A senior Biden administration official told reporters on August 1 that a drone fired two Hellfire R9X missiles at the terrorist leader as he walked on to the balcony of his safe house.  

The R9X carries 45kg of reinforced metal in its tip with six extendable blades designed to shred the target upon impact without triggering a blast that could prove deadly to those nearby. 

The existence of the missile has not been confirmed by the US military.

The official described the al-Zawahiri assassination as a ‘precise tailored airstrike.’ 

The possibly closest look we have of a used R9X in Yemen in June 2022. The red ball is the pneumatic accumulator that helps to propel the missile  

Other targets shed to pieces by Hellfire RX9 missiles: List includes al Qaeda targets, an Iranian general and a mysterious terror financer

The Hellfire RX9 missile is a highly secretive collaboration between the CIA and the DOD that has its origins during the Obama administration in 2011.

The purpose of the project was to limit the amount of collateral damage and civilian casualties caused during conventional drone strikes. 

The R9X carries 45kg of reinforced metal in its tip with six extendable blades designed to shred the target upon impact without triggering a blast that could prove deadly to those nearby. 

Here are some of the known victims of one of the CIA’s most sophisticated pieces of weaponry:

Abu Khayr al-Masri – February 2017 

Then al-Qaeda’s second in command, Abu Al-Khayr al-Masri is thought to have been the first person killed by the RX9 missile. 

Al-Masri was killed alongside another militant in Idlib, Syria, on February 26, 2017. According to GlobalSecurity.org, locals at the scene, while suspecting a drone strike, were shocked that there was ‘no real sign of a large explosion’ and that the terrorist leader’s Kia sedan remained largely in tact. 

Jamal Ahmad Mohammad Al Badawi – January 2019

This photo provided by the FBI shows Jamal al-Badawi. He was the mastermind behind the the Oct. 12, 2000 attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors

On New Year’s Day 2019, Jamal Ahmad Mohammad Al Badawi, a prime suspect in the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, was killed by an R9X missile in Ma’rib Governorate, Yemen. 

He was driving alone when he was killed and there were no other reported casualties.  

The bombing of the USS Cole killed 17 American sailors. He was the first high-profile terrorist target that US forces killed in Yemen. 

Then President Donald Trump tweeted at the time: ‘We have just killed the leader of that attack, Jamal al-Badawi. Our work against al Qaeda continues. We will never stop in our fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism!’ 

Mohibullah – January 2020

In January 2019, the Afghani government confirmed that a mysterious financier of terrorism, known only as Mohibullah, was killed in a targeted strike in the northeastern part of Afghanistan. 

 He was driving in a car when killed. Mohibullah was a Pakistani citizen. 

General Qassem Soleimani – Janaury 2020 

A demonstrator holds the picture of Qassem Soleimani during a protest against the assassination of the Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani

The R9X missile is also suspected of having been used in the air strike which killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in January, catapulting Washington and Tehran to the brink of war, although this was never confirmed. 

A report from The Hill at the time of Soleimani’s death found that the height from which the general was struck had the characteristics of the RX9 missile. 

Abu al Qassam al Urduni and Bilal al Sanaani – June 2020 

Hurras Al-Din leaders Abu al Qassam al Urduni and Bilal al Sananni were killed in Syria’s Idlib province in June 2020. 

Like al-Masri, the pair were traveling in a car when they were hit by a drone strike. Similarly, local reported no explosion and their vehicle remained largely intact.

Al Urduni was a close ally of key US target, al Qaeda organizer Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in bombing in 2006. 

Abu Yahya al-Uzbeki – August 2020 

Military trainer for al-Qaeda Abu Yahya al-Uzbeki was killed by what one news source referred to as a ‘100-pound flying switchblade’ in August 2020.

Al-Uzbeki had also been work in with Hurras Al-Din at the time of his death.

Abu Hamzah al-Yemini – June 2022

Abu Hamzah al-Yemini, the leader of Hurras al Din, was killed in northwestern Syria on June 29 this year. 

Abu Hamzah al-Yemeni was travelling alone on a motorcycle at the time of the strike,’ US Central Command said in a statement, adding that an ‘initial review indicates no civilian casualties.’

Multiple experts said that the scene of al-Yemini’s death showed the hallmarks of the RX9 missile. 

Osama Bin-Laden’s former number two was staying in the home with members of his family. President Biden said that there other injuries as a result of Saturday’s strike. 

It was the United State’s most significant strike against al Qaeda since the killing of bin Laden in 2011. In fact, the RX9 was considered when plans were being drawn up to permanently take down the 9/11 mastermind. 

The R9X Hellfire missile has become one of the US military’s favored weapons for precision assassinations as it carries a lower risk of collateral damage.

Developed during Obama’s presidency in 2011 amid concerns over the number of civilians being killed in drone strike campaigns in the Middle East, the ‘ninja’ missile is so nicknamed because it foregoes the use of an explosive warhead. 

It the result of a combined effort by the CIA and the Department of Defense. 

The missile is made Lockheed Martin and Northrop Gumman. It is not clear how many R9X missiles that the Pentagon have in their possession.

The R9X is not mentioned in the 2022 budget requests for missile procurement.  

The secretive military Joint Special Operations Command has confirmed the use of the R9X twice, in 2019 and 2020, reports the New York Times. But it has reportedly been used on nearly a dozen other occasions to take out specific targets. 

During the Korean and Vietnam wars in the 1950s, the US military pioneered an idea of non-explosive kinetic bombs named Lazy Dogs. 

The bombs were designed to kill using kinetic energy after being dropped from aircraft. The weighed between 560 and 625 pounds. Lazy Dogs did not prove to be popular among commanders and their development was halted in the 1960s.

The existence of the R9X was first reported by the Wall Street Journal in 2019. The newspaper said that the missile was used in attacks on persons in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia. 

The Journal said that those worked with the R9X is referred to as the ‘flying Ginsu,’ a reference to a popular brand of steak knives. 

An unnamed official source told the newspaper at the time that the missile was created with the ‘express purpose of reducing civilian casualties.’ 

The article referred to the weapon as being similar to a ‘speedy anvil.’ 

The example that the Journal provides suggests that the R9X was so precise that if a target was in a car with an innocent driver, the missile would take out the target and spare the driver. 

The same report said that the missile’s blades can cut through buildings, and car roofs. 

At the time of the WSJ report, Human Rights Watch’s Letta Tayler wrote on the group’s website that the RX9 should not necessarily be viewed as a more ethical weapon. 

Tayler said: ‘On its own, the R9X won’t resolve the host of legal issues surrounding the US targeted killing program, which since 2002 has killed thousands of people with scant transparency.’ 

In August 2021, the R9X was thought to have been used to kill two ISIS militants in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. According to Task and Purpose, the missiles were fired from a MQ-9 Reaper drone. 

Following that strike, Army Major General William ‘Hank’ Taylor bragged about the lack of civilian casualties adding: ‘Without specifying any future plans, I will say that we will continue to have the ability to defend ourselves and to leverage over-the-horizon capability to conduct counterterrorism operations as needed.’ 

That strike was in response to the Hamid Karzai International Airport attack that killed 13 US servicemembers.  

In addition to the August 2021 attack, the R9X is thought to have been used in the killing of al Qaeda second-in-command Ahmad Hasan Abu Khayr al-Masri in February 2017.

It was used again to take out Taliban leader Mohabullah in Afghanistan in January 2019, that same month the missile was used on USS Cole bombing suspect Jamel Ahmed Mohammed Ali al-Badawi in Yemen and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham leader Abu Ahmed al-Jaziri in June 2019

The following year, the missile was the cause of death of Hurras Al-Din leaders Qassam al-Urduni and Bilal al-Sanaani in Syria.

The latter featured the use of three 100-plus-pound warheads, according to the Military Times. 

Al-Zawahiri joins a list of undesirables that includes, Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin, who was killed in 2004 by the Israeli Air Force, who have been taken out by variations of the traditional Hellfire missile. 

While in use by the US military, conventional Hellfire missiles have taken out Anwar al-Awlaki, an Al Qaeda organizer as well as high-ranking Al Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi, who was killed in Pakistan in 2012, Al-Shabaab leader Moktar Ali Zubeyr, who met his end in 2014 in Somalia, not to mention Mohammed Emwazi aka Jihadi John who was killed in 2015 in Syria. 

The explosive warhead on a traditional hellfire missile weighs around 20 pounds.  

The last high-profile use of the Hellfire Ninja was when Abu Hamzah al-Yemeni – the leader of the Hurras al Din – was compromised in the city of Idlib in Syria in June 2022.

Images from that scene showed the twisted remains of a motorcycle strewn across the ground, suggesting the missile scored a direct hit on its target. 

Hurras al Din is a relatively small but powerful armed group led by Al Qaeda loyalists, which was led by Yemeni until his death yesterday.

It’s estimated to have 2,000 to 2,500 fighters in rebel-held Syria, according to the United Nations. 

The R9X missile is also suspected of having been used in the air strike which killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in January, catapulting Washington and Tehran to the brink of war, although this was never confirmed. 

In his remarks following al-Zawahiri’s killing, Biden repeatedly invoked the September 11th terrorist attacks and said the killing of al-Zawahiri demonstrated the resolve of the United States to go after terrorist leaders, no matter where they hide and how long it takes.

‘Now, justice has been delivered, and this terrorist leader is no more,’ he said. ‘We made it clear again tonight that 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.’

The motorbike, that was reportedly being ridden by jihadist leader Abu Hamzah al-Yemeni at the time that he was killed by a US drone strike, is shown mangled after being hit by the R9X

Blitzed on his balcony: How CIA spied on Ayman al-Zawahiri for six months before pounding terror chief with two Hellfire missiles when he stepped out of Kabul home and ‘lingered’

The United States killed al Qaeda boss Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike Saturday, following a more than 20-year effort to assassinate the terrorist.

Labeled by US officials as Osama bin Laden’s number-two, al-Zawahiri, 71, was a key plotter of the September 11 terrorist attacks and took over as the leader of the notorious terror group following bin Laden’s death in 2011.

The strike was carried out early Sunday at an Afghanistan safe house the elderly terrorist had be holed up in, at 6:18 am local time and 9:48 pm Saturday in the US.

The early morning attack saw al-Zawahiri killed by two hellfire missiles fired from drones deployed by the CIA, as he stood on the balcony of the safe house in downtown Kabul.

The Egyptian-born jihadist apparently proceeded to linger on the landing, as U.S. intelligence had noted he often did, allowing the drone ample time to execute the attack. 

The mission, officials said, took six months to plan – but served as the culmination of a much wider, carefully coordinated campaign to track down and kill the al Qaeda head, who had successfully evaded US armed forces up until this point.

The slaying came more than 11 years after Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan by U.S. Navy Seals on May 2, 2011, in a more hands on, drone-less strike that came after a nearly decade-long hunt for the 9/11 mastermind.

Labeled by US officials as Osama bin Laden’s number-two, al-Zawahiri, 71, was a key plotter of the September 11 terrorist attacks and took over as the leader of the notorious terror group following bin Laden’s death in 2011

An Egyptian born to a comfortable family in Cairo in 1951, al-Zawahiri first came on authorities’ radars in the 90s, shortly after the formation of the terror group in 1988 by Bin Laden – at which time al-Zawahiri was already a member.

The two terrorists reportedly met sometime in late 1980s, when al-Zawahri reportedly kept the Saudi millionaire safe in the caves of Afghanistan from Soviet bombardments that then had been common in the region. 

In 1998, he was named Bin Laden’s deputy, further raising his profile, as he began to appear alongside the Saudi national at al-Qaeda held news conferences, airing anti-American sentiment and calling for other likeminded Muslims to join their cause.

That same year, al-Zawahiri, then 47, was indicted for his alleged role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. 

The August 7 attack saw nearly simultaneous bombs blew up in front of the embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, killing 224 – including 12 Americans – and wounding more than 4,500.

At the time, al-Zawahri – who was radicalized after he and hundreds of militants were tortured in Egyptian prison after Islamic fundamentalists’ assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981 – had bolstered the terror group by merging it with his own group, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which he had started in the 80s. 

He would then help hone the group secretly in his home nation, all while evading Egyptian intelligence, until it achieved cells of followers all across the globe. 

After years of quietly assembling suicide attackers, funds and plans, al-Zawahri, Bin Laden and several others would carry out the infamous September 11 attacks, putting him and other conspirators at the top of the FBI’s Most Wanted List. 

Going into hiding, al-Zawahri would then work to ensure that al-Qaeda members survived the global manhunt that would ensue – all while rebuilding the group’s shattered leadership in the Afghan-Pakistan border region, and serving as the supreme leader over branches in Iraq, Asia, Yemen,

In this 1998 photo, Ayman al-Zawahri, left, listens during a news conference with Osama bin Laden in Khost, Afghanistan. A U.S. airstrike killed al-Qaida leader al-Zawahri Saturday

In the years that followed, al-Zawahri and Bin Laden would take credit for a series of attacks across Europ and Africa, as US forces successfully rounded up several accused of masterminding the 9/11 plot.

Despite efforts that included a combination of unrelenting raids and missile and drone strikes, both al-Zawahri bin Laden would successfully manage to evade US forces, and hide elsewhere in the Middle East.

It would take roughly a decade before US armed forces were able to track down at least one of the terror group’s elusive top members, with a group of US Navy seals successfully taking out Bin Laden, then 54, at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

It was at this point that al-Zawahiri assumed leadership of the group, taking over immediately after the death of his friend.

US intelligence would then learn over the course of several months from sources with ‘increased confidence’ that the terror leader’s family had relocated to an unspecified safe house somewhere in the Middle East.

The next clue to the al-Qaueda kingpin’s whereabouts would not come for another decade, after rumors swirled in 2020 that the terror boss had died from illness.

Those rumors were put to bed, however, the very next year, on the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, when al-Zawahiri appeared in a video where he celebrated the US military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan 20 years after the invasion.

In that video, he proclaimed ‘Jerusalem will never be Judaized’ and praised al-Qaeda attacks – including one that targeted Russian troops in Syria in January 2021.

The sudden spot seemingly did not provide US officials any clues as to where al-Zawahiri was hiding – however, seven months later, top US security staffers were reportedly informed of ‘developing intelligence’ that he and his family were back in Afghanistan.

The breakthrough came in April, after US officials learned that the terror leader’s wife, daughter and children had relocated to Kabul, at an al-Qaeda safehouse – the one struck over the weekend.

Officials eventually determined that al-Zawahri, too, was at the house – setting into motion a plan that would see officials construct a scale model of the multifloored, terraced property.

That model would eventually be brought it into the White House Situation Room to President Joe Biden, who along with several senior security officials, including National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, would plot the attack, knowing that al-Zawahri was partial to sitting on the home’s balcony. 

The group then painstakingly constructed ‘a pattern of life,’ as one official put it, for the terror leader, and said Monday that they had been confident he was on the balcony when the missiles flew. 

In this television image from Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera, Osama bin Laden, right, listens as his top deputy Ayman al-Zawahri speaks at an undisclosed location, in this image made from undated video tape broadcast by the station April 15, 2002

Inside the administration, only a small group of officials at key agencies, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris, were allowed into the highly classified planning process. 

During this time, as the US investigated the ‘construction and nature of of the safe house’ and building integrity so the strike could kill the target without putting civilians in danger, al-Zawahiri would continue to crank out videos attacking the US and its allies

Shortly after, US officials ‘systematically eliminated all reasonable options’ other than a strike, after confirming the identities of all the people inside.

‘Key’ agencies, officials said, were then brought into the process to make sure that intel was ‘rock solid’ before eventually carrying out the top-secret operation.

During the last few weeks of this period, Biden convened several meetings with advisors and cabinet members to scrutinize the intelligence and analyze various updates as to the situation at hand.   

On July 1, Biden was briefed in the Situation Room about the operation, and closely examined the model of the home al-Zawahri was hiding out in. He gave his final approval for the operation on Thursday. 

Just as US officials had planned, the jihadist had been standing on the balcony of his hideout when the early-morning strike was carried out.

‘We make it clear again tonight: That 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,’ Biden said Monday, announcing the attack’s success to the nation.

Hours later, a statement from Afghanistan’s Taliban government confirmed the airstrike, but did not mention al-Zawahri or any other casualties.

It said it ”strongly condemns this attack and calls it a clear violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement,’ the 2020 U.S. pact with the Taliban that led to the withdrawal of American forces.

‘Such actions are a repetition of the failed experiences of the past 20 years and are against the interests of the United States of America, Afghanistan, and the region,’ the statement said.

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