Who was Ayman al-Zawahri? Where does his death leave al-Qaida and what does it say about US counterterrorism?

Published: August 2, 2022 2.16pm BST The Conversation

Authors

  1. Haroro J. IngramSenior Research Fellow at the Program on Extremism, George Washington University
  2. Andrew MinesResearch Fellow at the Program on Extremism, George Washington University
  3. Daniel MiltonDirector of Research, United States Military Academy West Point

Disclosure statement

The views expressed by Dr. Milton are his own and not of the U.S. Military Academy, the Department of the Army, or any other agency of the U.S. Government

Andrew Mines and Haroro J. Ingram do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Ayman al-Zawahri, leader of al-Qaida and a plotter of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, has been killed in a drone strike in the Afghan city of Kabul, according to the U.S. government.

Al-Zawahri was the the successor to Osama bin Laden and his death marked “one more measure of closure” to the families of those killed in the 2001 atrocities, U.S. President Joe Biden said during televised remarks on Aug. 1, 2022.

The operation came almost a year after American troops exited Afghanistan after decades of fighting there. The Conversation asked Daniel Milton, a terrorism expert at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and Haroro J. Ingram and Andrew Mines, research fellows at the George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, to explain the significance of the strike on al-Zawahri and what it says about U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

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