The killing of Ayman al-Zawahiri and geopolitical implications

Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of the terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda, was killed in a US drone attack on July 31, 2022. Along with Osama Bin Laden, he was one of the principal conspirators behind many terrorist attacks on American targets, including the dastardly September 11, 2001 attack.

The killing of Ayman al-Zawahiri happened almost a year after the United States (US) withdrawal from Afghanistan and the consequent takeover of the country by the Taliban. The killing of al-Zawahiri demonstrates that, even after two decades of the 9/11 attacks, Washington continues to “relentlessly” pursue its perpetrators. It appears that the operation was conducted with considerable precision using two Hellfire R9X missiles, and there were no civilian casualties. The successful strikes point to the continued US ability to act on intelligence and project power in the region.

The drone strike exhibited that the US retains an efficient ‘Over the Horizon Counter Terrorism (OTH-CT)’ task force under Operation Enduring Sentinel and can engage targets at will in Afghanistan. The successful operation has implications for US domestic politics. After the botched-up US withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, President Biden now has a positive story regarding his Afghanistan policy. President Biden’s ratings (at a record low of 36% in the last week of July) may receive an uptick before the mid-term elections (scheduled for November 8). Osama Bin Laden was killed in May 2011 during the tenure of President Obama. Now, the second most important leader of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was killed during Biden’s presidency.

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