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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Matthew Dresch

Shocking moment of fiery explosion believed to have killed al-Qaeda chief

These shocking images show what is thought to be the aftermath of a US drone strike that killed al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri.

US President Joe Biden confirmed last night that the CIA strike had eliminated terror leader Zawahri.

The CIA fired two Hellfire missiles at the 71-year-old's safe house in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday.

The rockets were launched when Zawahri came out on the balcony of his building.

Images shared by TOLOnews, Afghanistan's main news broadcaster, show huge clouds of smoke rising from the scene of a strike in Kabul on Sunday.

Taliban officials previously insisted no-one was killed in the attack, adding that a rocket had struck an empty home.

Ayman al-Zawahri was Osama Bin Laden's right-hand man (Reuters)
Taliban officials previously claimed no-one died in the strike (Twitter)

However, Andrew Watkins, an expert on Afghanistan at the US Institute of Peace, believes Zawahiri died in the strike.

He tweeted: "Though not yet confirmed in initial reports, the US drone strike that killed al-Qaeda chief Zawahiri seems likely to have been the explosion that took place in downtown Kabul two days ago.

"(The) area of Kabul where al-Qaeda chief seems to have been killed by US drone strike is known to house senior Taliban.

"(It) remains to be seen how much detail the Biden White House shares, but seems almost certain Zawahiri was under some form of Taliban sanctuary."

Zawahiri was a key architect of the 9/11 attacks (Getty)

Biden confirmed he had authorised the precision strike in downtown Kabul and that no civilians were killed.

Zawahiri became head of al-Qaeda after Osama Bin Laden's was shot dead by US special forces in 2011.

"Since the United States delivered justice to Bin Laden 11 years ago, Zawahiri has been a leader of al-Qaeda," Biden said.

"From hiding, he co-ordinated al-Qaeda's branches and all around the world, including setting priorities for providing operational guidance and calling for and inspired attacks against US targets.

Bin Laden sitting next to Zawahiri (Getty)

"This mission was carefully planned, rigorously minimising the risk of harm to other civilians.

"And one week ago, after being advised that the conditions were optimal, I gave the final approval to go get him. And the mission was a success."

Speaking on August 31, 2021, after the last US troops left Afghanistan, Mr Biden said the US would not let up on its fight against terrorism in that country or elsewhere.

“We will maintain the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and other countries,” he said.

“We just don’t need to fight a ground war to do it.”

President Joe Biden ordered the strike on Zawahiri (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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According to the FBI 's most wanted list, Zawahiri had a £20.4million bounty over his head.

Zawahiri was a physician and the founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ).

According to the FBI, the organisation opposed the secular Egyptian Government and sought to overthrow it through violent means.

He moved to Jeddah in the 1980s, where he met bin Laden.

In around 1998, the EIJ, led by Zawahiri, merged with Al Qaeda.

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

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