US President Joe Biden confirmed on Monday evening that Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri had been killed in a US air strike in Afghanistan.

Speaking outdoors from the Blue Room Balcony at the White House due to this testing positive for COVID-19, Biden said that he approved the US air strike which eliminated Al-Zawahiri and which took place on Saturday.

“He was deeply involved in the planning of 9/11, one of the most responsible for the attacks that murdered 2,977 people on American soil. For decades, he was the mastermind of attacks against Americans,” Biden said.

“He had a trail of murder and violence against American citizens, American service members, American diplomats, and American interests,” continued the President.

“Now, justice has been delivered. And this terrorist leader is no more. People around the world no longer need to fear the vicious and determined killer. The United States continues to demonstrate our resolve and our capacity to defend the American people against those who seek to do us harm,” he stated.

“We make it clear again tonight that, no matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out,” said Biden.

Biden said he authorized the strike on “clear and convincing evidence” of Al-Zawahiri’s location, and added that none of Al-Zawahiri’s family members were hurt and there were no civilian casualties.

Ayman Al-Zawahiri
Ayman Al-Zawahiri REUTERS/Handout

Earlier, officials told The Associated Press that Al-Zawahiri had been killed in a drone strike, but the administration delayed releasing the information until it could his death could be confirmed.

White House officials declined to confirm that Al-Zawahiri was killed but noted in a statement that “the United States conducted a counterterrorism operation against a significant Al-Qaeda target in Afghanistan. The operation was successful and there were no civilian casualties.”

The White House then said that Biden would deliver remarks at 7:30 p.m. (local time) Monday night on a “successful counterterrorism operation”.

Al-Zawahiri took command of Al-Qaeda following the elimination of its longtime leader, Osama bin Laden, in 2011.

Since taking over as the leader of the organization, he has appeared in several videos in which he attacked Israel.

This past September, Al-Zawahiri released a video marking 20 years since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, in which he attacked Arab countries for “collaborating” with the United States and calling them “Zionist Arabs.”

In the video, which was posted to the website of the SITE Intelligence Group, Al-Zawahiri also vowed that “Jerusalem will not be Judaized.”

In 2019, in a similar video published on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Al-Zawahiri called on Muslims to attack US, European, Israeli and Russian targets.

In a recording released in 2018, the Al-Qaeda leader urged Muslims to carry out jihad against the United States as it prepared to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

In a 2015 recording, Al-Zawahiri welcomed terrorist attacks in Israel and called for Muslims to work to “liberate” Jerusalem.