AYMAN AL-ZAWAHRI TOOK OVER THE LEADERSHIP OF AL-QAEDA AFTER THE DEATH OF OSAMA BIN LADEN
WASHINGTON — The United States killed the top leader of Al Qaeda, a key plotter of the Sept. 11 attacks, in a drone strike in Afghanistan over the weekend, according to current and former U.S. officials.
Ayman al-Zawahri, who took over the leadership of the group after the death of Osama bin Laden, was killed in the strike in Kabul, the first attack in Afghanistan since American forces left last year and a significant victory for the Biden administration’s counterterrorism efforts.
Mr. Zawahri was the No. 2 in Al Qaeda on Sept. 11, and American officials considered him a central plotter of the attacks. While he lacked the charismatic leadership of Bin Laden, he profoundly shaped Al Qaeda and its terrorist movements with his writing and arguments.
U.S. officials said the strike was not conducted by the military. A former official said the operation was carried out by the C.I.A. Agency officials declined to comment.