Afghanistan condemns U.S. drone strike which killed Al Qaeda leader

The authorities in Afghanistan have condemned the U.S. drone strike on Sunday morning which killed Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri.

Islamic Emirate spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the strike was a violation of Afghanistan’s sovereignty.

He tweeted: “On the second day of the first month of the current year 1444 hijri an air strike was carried out on a residential house in the Sherpur area of Kabul city. The nature of the incident was not revealed at first.

“The security and intelligence agencies of the Islamic Emirate investigated the incident and found that the attack was carried out by American drones.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan strongly condemns this attack on any pretext and calls it a clear violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement.

“Such actions are a repetition of the failed experiences of the past 20 years and are against the interests of the United States of America, Afghanistan and the region. Repeating such actions will damage the available opportunities.”

The killing of Al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian surgeon who had a $25m bounty on his head for the September 11, 2001 attacks, is the biggest blow to Al Qaeda since its founder Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011.

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The drone attack is the first known U.S. strike inside Afghanistan since U.S. troops left the country in August 2021.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused the Taliban of “hosting and sheltering” the al-Qaeda leader in Kabul and “grossly” violating the Doha Agreement.

“In the face of the Taliban’s unwillingness or inability to abide by their commitments, we will continue to support the Afghan people with robust humanitarian assistance and to advocate for the protection of their human rights, especially of women and girls,” Blinken said in a statement.

Meanwhile, for many Afghans the news of the killing came as a complete surprise and roads leading to the house where he was killed were blocked.

International reaction outside the West is coming in slowly. Saudi state media quoted the kingdom’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, as saying: “Al-Zawahiri is considered one of the leaders of terrorism that led the planning and execution of heinous terrorist operations in the United States and Saudi Arabia.”

CAGE outreach director Moazzam Begg, who was imprisoned in Afghanistan by the Americans said: “In September last year, 10 civilians from one family, including 7 children, were killed in a U.S. drone strike following the bombing of Kabul airport during the chaotic American withdrawal. The USA proved from the outset that it was incapable of abiding by the Doha agreement.

“The drone strike over the weekend in Kabul has shown again that the USA is unwilling to abide by its promises. Recent years show scant evidence that 71 yr old Ayman Al-Zawahiri intended to target the USA especially in the light of Doha. However, instead of showing magnanimity in defeat, the embittered USA continues to inflict suffering on the people of Afghanistan by freezing their hard earned money and forcing poverty and starvation on the population while claiming to bring closure to the never-ending War on Terror with another extra judicial killing.”

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