Death of Wanted Terrorist Sparks Concerns

Death of Al Qaeda Leader Sparks Controversy

Terrorist Leader DEAD – But What Does This Mean for the US?

( – On Monday, August 1, President Joe Biden announced that a US-led airstrike in Kabul, Afghanistan, successfully killed al Qaeda leader Ayman Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri. He served the militant Sunni Islamic terrorist organization as its second emir after Osama bin Laden’s May 2011 death at the hands of members of the US Navy’s SEAL Team Six. Even still, his death is causing some drama.

Al-Zawahiri spent three years behind bars for his role in the assassination of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in October 1981 and reportedly cooperated with his captors. Later, as bin Laden’s chief deputy and ideological leader, he reportedly played an instrumental role in two US embassy bombings in 1998, the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, and the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

President Biden lauded the operation in his August 1 speech as evidence as a demonstration of American “resolve” and “capacity” to defend itself against those who would “do us harm.” He also said that al-Zawahiri’s death showed US forces could “conduct effective counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and beyond.”

However, the CIA-operated drone strike that killed the al Qaeda leader has also stirred up its fair share of controversy.

Mission Leading to Ayman Al-Zawahiri’s Death Raises Concerns

On August 2, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an in-depth analysis of the tactical questions raised by the recent operation that killed Ayman al-Zawahiri. For example, although the strike showed the US could target individuals within Afghanistan without putting boots on the ground, it didn’t indicate whether Pentagon and intelligence community officials could “thwart plots” in the war-ravaged country “before they became a threat.”

Most notably, critics of the Biden administration said the Taliban-controlled country posed a significant risk of future threats to US security interests. Biden argued it could successfully carry out counterterrorism strikes from afar in response to criticism after its botched Afghan withdrawal quickly handed control of the country over to Taliban officials.

Yet, a year later, the president failed to live up to those claims, according to many. For example, former Central Command head Gen. Frank F. McKenzie pointed out the drone strike represented just one successful mission since US forces completed their withdrawal.

Gen. McKenzie also noted the real test of US capabilities for remote operations in Afghanistan is much more involved than targeting a static target in a known location.

According to the general, successfully taking out a mobile target with adequate “operational security” in a remote area would present an entirely different set of variables that could determine the successful outcome of a mission.

A report from Reuters referred to the death of al-Zawahiri as a largely “symbolic blow,” and suggested that experts expect al Qaeda to continue planning attacks undeterred. If this analysis is accurate, it means it’s likely that the US still has a lot more work to do if it wants to neutralize threats from major terrorist groups overseas.

What do you think? Can Biden administration officials take on terrorist leaders under more strenuous circumstances?

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