If there is one constant in the behavior of the United States, regardless of the leader of the country, when faced with an attack or a simple grievance, it is its firm determination that the perpetrator or perpetrators do not don’t get away with it. Revenge is best served cold, and the US administration has demonstrated its unwavering determination to ensure its enemies know that their actions will not go unpunished.
Last on the list to experience it is Ayman al-Zawahiri, companion, adviser and successor to Osama bin Laden as head of al-Qaeda. According to all the accounts of the commando who executed him in his refuge in Abbotabad in Pakistan, not even the ashes were left behind; neither the Pentagon nor the White House wanted a corpse that could be buried and its grave turned into a shrine for Islamists who hate the West and its allies.
On the contrary, according to information provided by President Joe Biden (isolated in his office due to COVID) and other officials, al-Zawahiri was executed using a Hellfire surface-to-air missile launched by a drone. , hitting the body of the al-Qaeda leader at 6:16 a.m. on July 31 at his home in Kabul. The Americans do not believe that the body disappeared, they even suspect that his supporters could hide it and even fabricate videos to make believe that he is still alive. This time, however, the only casualty is Al-Zawahiri himself, while his family is unharmed. This is the opposite of what happened in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan at the start of the American invasion, where it was Al-Zawahiri who emerged unscathed from the attack on his hideout, while that his wife and children perished.
Up to $25 million for his head
“Justice has been served, and we have brought down this terrorist leader,” Biden proclaimed in his White House speech, then remarked on the unwavering principle of revenge: “No matter how much work it takes, no matter where they hide, if someone poses a threat to our people , America will find it and eliminate it.”
Featured on the FBI’s most wanted terrorists list, Al-Zawahiri’s head came with a $25 million reward, roughly the same amount as in euros at the current exchange rate, which informants who have tracked his movements and tracked his comings and goings in Kabul itself will likely be shared. He had arrived in the Afghan capital after having hidden for twenty years in the mountains of neighboring Pakistan, taking advantage of the rout of the departure of international troops and the final hasty evacuation of American troops.
If printed on paper, Ayman al-Zawahiri’s file would occupy entire cupboards. Researchers who have retraced his steps almost unanimously consider him to be the real mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, which killed nearly 3,000 people.. In reality, this simultaneous attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, which also targeted the Capitol and the White House, was the culmination of a strategy, attributed to Al-Zawahiri himself, of systematic attacks against American interests. This strategy began with the attacks on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which left 200 dead and 5,000 injured, and continued with the audacious attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, which left 17 dead. additional among the Marines.
Total war against the West
The “success” of 9/11 prompted bin Laden and al-Zawahiri to pursue their strategy, which resulted in multiple attacks in Madrid and London three years later. Zawahiri himself mentioned them all in a video, dated late 2005, in which he explicitly refers to Madrid, London, New York and Washington as “scenarios where we succeeded in destroying the enemy”.
The al-Qaida leader’s last appearance, also in a video, was earlier this year, shortly after Russia began invading Ukraine, where he blamed the United States of this war. This is the last partial questioning of the West, considered as the supposed cause of the evils from which the Arab world suffers. For this war, it was also Zawahiri himself who united Al-Qaeda and Islamic Jihad. Its subsequent weakness in the face of Daesh’s push led it to grant al-Qaeda franchises in the Sahel, the Arabian Peninsula and South Asia, although today it is Daesh that has imposed its primacy in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan itself.
Thus ends the eventful life of Al-Zawahiri, born in Egypt in 1951 into a rich and influential family, so much so that his grandfather was imam of the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, the main focus of intellectual influence of Sunni Islam, and his great-uncle Abdel Rahman Azzam was the first secretary of the Arab League.
For its part, with this execution, Biden has his own trophy on the list of presidents who have exacted revenge. More recently, his own predecessors: Barack Obama was responsible for announcing the death of bin Laden in 2011, and Donald Trump, in 2019, that of the leader of Daesh, Abubakr al-Baghdadi.