The United States killed al Qaeda boss Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike Saturday, following a more than 20-year effort to assassinate the terrorist.

Labeled by US officials as Osama bin Laden’s number-two, al-Zawahiri, 71, was a key plotter of the September 11 terrorist attacks and took over as the leader of the notorious terror group following bin Laden’s death in 2011.

The strike was carried out early Sunday at an Afghanistan safe house the elderly terrorist had be holed up in, at 6:18 am local time and 9:48 pm Saturday in the US.

The early morning attack saw al-Zawahiri killed by two hellfire missiles fired from drones deployed by the CIA, as he stood on the balcony of the safe house in downtown Kabul.

The Egyptian-born jihadist apparently proceeded to linger on the landing, as U.S. intelligence had noted he often did, allowing the drone ample time to execute the attack. 

The mission, officials said, took six months to plan – but served as the culmination of a much wider, carefully coordinated campaign to track down and kill the al Qaeda head, who had successfully evaded US armed forces up until this point.

The slaying came more than 11 years after Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan by U.S. Navy Seals on May 2, 2011, in a more hands on, drone-less strike that came after a nearly decade-long hunt for the 9/11 mastermind.

The strike was carried out early Sunday at an Afghanistan safe house the elderly terrorist had be holed up in, at 6:18 am local time and 9:48 pm Saturday in the US.

At 6:18 AM local time, the strike took place at the safe house in Afghanistan where the terrorist was hiding. It ended at 9:48 PM Saturday in the USA.

The United States killed al Qaeda boss Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike Saturday, following a more than 20-year effort to assassinate the terrorist

After a 20-year-long effort to kill the terrorist, Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s chief of staff was killed by the United States in a drone attack on Saturday. 

Labeled by US officials as Osama bin Laden’s number-two, al-Zawahiri, 71, was a key plotter of the September 11 terrorist attacks and took over as the leader of the notorious terror group following bin Laden’s death in 2011

Labeled by US officials as Osama bin Laden’s number-two, al-Zawahiri, 71, was a key plotter of the September 11 terrorist attacks and took over as the leader of the notorious terror group following bin Laden’s death in 2011

Monday night, President Joe Biden confirmed that a CIA drone strike killed al-Zawahiri. He was bin Laden’s fanatical deputy and mastermind of multiple terrorist attacks in the past two decades which have claimed thousands.

Biden repeatedly referred to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which al Zawahiri was involved in planning. Biden said that the US is determined to take down terrorist leaders regardless of their hiding places or how long it takes.

He stated, “Now, justice is done, and this terrorist leader has been eliminated.” “We reiterated tonight our conviction that the United States would find and exterminate any threat you pose to their people no matter what time it takes or whereabouts you may hide.

Al-Zawahiri (71) was hit by two Hellfire Ninja’ missiles – with extending knives – as he stood on his balcony in a safe area in Kabul’s wealthy district. It happened in a six-month-long-planned mission.

According to American officials, his wife, daughters, and grandchildren lived with him, but they were not hurt. Sirajuddin Haiqani, the top aide of Sirajuddin, is believed to have been the interior minister for Taliban. He is wanted by FBI agents for questioning.

Biden outlined al-Zawahiri’s involvement in terrorist organizations, noting that he also was responsible for the 2001 attacks and bombings of the USS Cole 2000. He also aided in attacks on U.S embassies at Kenya and Tanzania 1998.

Biden claimed that Biden had “carved a trail murdering and violent against American citizens, American military personnel, American diplomats, American interests”

Biden ended his remarks by warning those who are trying to harm America around the globe: We will continue to be vigilant. We will also act. Americans will remain safe and secure at all times.

This was the United States’ most important strike against al Qaeda in the last five years, since Osama Bin Laden’s death in 2011. Al-Zawahiri replaced bin Laden to become the top terrorist leader.

Al-Zawahiri was on FBI’s most-wanted terror list. A $25 million reward was offered for information leading to his capture.

An Egyptian born to a comfortable family in Cairo in 1951, al-Zawahiri first came on authorities’ radars in the 90s, shortly after the formation of the terror group in 1988 by Bin Laden – at which time al-Zawahiri was already a member.

According to reports, the two terrorists met in 1980 when al-Zawahri was rumored to have kept the Saudi millionaire in Afghanistan safe from Soviet bombings that were then common in the area. 

He was also named Bin Laden’s deputy in 1998. His profile grew further as he started to make public appearances. News conferences were held alongside al-Qaeda’s Saudi national, which aired anti-American sentiment and called for similar-minded Muslims to join them.

The same year saw al-Zawahiri, then 47, was indicted for his alleged role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. 

On August 7, nearly identical bombs went off right in front the embassies of Dar es Salaam & Nairobi. This attack killed 224, 12 Americans and left more than 4,500 wounded.

A user on Twitter posted an image from the scene of the strike against al-Zawahiri in Kabul

Twitter user posted a photo from Kabul’s scene of strike against al-Zawahiri

At the time, al-Zawahri – who was radicalized after he and hundreds of militants were tortured in Egyptian prison after Islamic fundamentalists’ assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981 – had bolstered the terror group by merging it with his own group, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which he had started in the 80s. 

He then helped to refine the group’s secretive operations in his homeland, while still evading Egyptian intelligence. There are many followers around the world. 

After years of quietly assembling suicide attackers, funds and plans, al-Zawahri, Bin Laden and several others would carry out the infamous September 11 attacks, putting him and other conspirators at the top of the FBI’s Most Wanted List. 

Going into hiding, al-Zawahri would then work to ensure that al-Qaeda members survived the global manhunt that would ensue – all while rebuilding the group’s shattered leadership in the Afghan-Pakistan border region, and serving as the supreme leader over branches in Iraq, Asia, Yemen,

In this 1998 photo, Ayman al-Zawahri, left, listens during a news conference with Osama bin Laden in Khost, Afghanistan. A U.S. airstrike killed al-Qaida leader al-Zawahri Saturday

Ayman al Zawahri (left) listens to Osama Bin Laden during an interview in Khost, Afghanistan, 1998. Al-Qaida leader al Zawahri was killed in a U.S. Airstrike on Saturday

In the years that followed, al-Zawahri and Bin Laden would take credit for a series of attacks across Europ and Africa, as US forces successfully rounded up several accused of masterminding the 9/11 plot.

Despite efforts that included a combination of unrelenting raids and missile and drone strikes, both al-Zawahri bin Laden would successfully manage to evade US forces, and hide elsewhere in the Middle East.

It would take roughly a decade before US armed forces were able to track down at least one of the terror group’s elusive top members, with a group of US Navy seals successfully taking out Bin Laden, then 54, at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Al-Zawahiri, his friend and former leader of the group took over the leadership at that point.

Al-Zawahiri was Bin Laden's No 2 in Al-Qaeda, the radical jihadist network once led by the Saudi millionaire. The two are seen above in this September 2006 file photo

Al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden’s number 2 in Al-Qaeda (the radical jihadist network once commanded by the Saudi millionaire), was Al-Zawahiri. In this file photo from September 2006, you can see them both.

The US intelligence then learned, over several months, from sources of ‘increased confidance’ that the family of the terrorist leader had moved to an unknown safe house in the Middle East.

It would be a decade before the next clue on the whereabouts of the al-Qaueda terror boss’s location is revealed. Rumours began swirling in 2020 about the death of the terrorist leader.

The rumors about the attacks were dispelled the following year. On the 20th anniversary, al-Zawahiri was seen in a video celebrating the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan, 20 years later.

In that video, he proclaimed ‘Jerusalem will never be Judaized’ and praised al-Qaeda attacks – including one that targeted Russian troops in Syria in January 2021.

Al-Zawahiri's FBI wanted poster - there was a $25 million reward for information on him

Al-Zawahiri’s FBI Wanted Post – $25 million reward was offered for information. 

The US authorities did not seem to have any information about the sudden location. However, US top security officials were informed seven months later of “developing intelligence” that al-Zawahiri and his family had returned to Afghanistan.

The breakthrough came in April, after US officials learned that the terror leader’s wife, daughter and children had relocated to Kabul, at an al-Qaeda safehouse – the one struck over the weekend.

Officials finally discovered that al-Zawahri also was present at the house, which set in motion a plan to have officials build a scale model the multifloored, terraced property.

That model would eventually be brought it into the White House Situation Room to President Joe Biden, who along with several senior security officials, including National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, would plot the attack, knowing that al-Zawahri was partial to sitting on the home’s balcony. 

They then meticulously created ‘a life pattern’, as one official described it. Monday was the first day that they were able to say that they had been Confident he was right there on the balcony as the missiles flew. 

In this television image from Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera, Osama bin Laden, right, listens as his top deputy Ayman al-Zawahri speaks at an undisclosed location, in this image made from undated video tape broadcast by the station April 15, 2002

Osama Bin Laden (right) listens while his top deputy Ayman Al-Zawahri talks at an undisclosed spot in this TV picture from Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera. The image is made from undated audio tape broadcast by Al-Jazeera on April 15, 2002

Only a few officials from key agencies and Vice President Kamala Harir were permitted to enter the highly classified planning process within the administration. 

As the US reviewed the ‘construction’ of the safe house and built integrity to ensure that the strike would kill the target, al-Zawahiri kept making videos of attacks on the US, its allies, and civilians.

Soon afterward, US officials “systematically eliminated all possible options” except for a strike. After verifying all insiders, they also confirmed their identities.

Officials stated that key agencies were involved in the operation to verify the integrity of the information before they could carry out the top secret mission.

Biden met with several cabinet members and advisors to review the intelligence, and to analyze the latest information.   

On July 1, President Joe Biden - pictured announcing the strike's success Monday - was briefed in the Situation Room about the operation, and closely examined the model of the home al-Zawahri was hiding out in. He gave his final approval for the operation four days ago

The President Joe Biden, pictured on Monday declaring the strike’s success, was briefed by the Situation Room and carefully examined the blueprint of al-Zawahri’s home. The President gave his approval to the operation on July 1, four days before.

Biden met with the Situation Room on July 1. He was informed about the operation and inspected the blueprint of al-Zawahri’s hideout. On Thursday, he gave final approval to the operation. 

The jihadist was on the balcony in his hideout at the time of the attack, just as US officials expected.

“We reiterate our position tonight. No matter what time it takes or where you hide, if there is a threat to our citizens, the United States will locate you and exterminate you,” Biden stated Monday. He announced the success of the attack to the nation.

Hours later, a statement from Afghanistan’s Taliban government confirmed the airstrike, but did not mention al-Zawahri or any other casualties.

It said it ‘“strongly condemns this attack and calls it a clear violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement,’ the 2020 U.S. pact with the Taliban that led to the withdrawal of American forces.

According to the statement, such actions “repeat the failures of the last 20 years” and are incompatible with the interests of America, Afghanistan, as well as the region.  

Afghanistan’s Taliban government confirmed the airstrike, but did not mention al-Zawahri, pictured here in 2006, or any other casualties

Afghanistan’s Taliban government confirmed the airstrike, but did not mention al-Zawahri, pictured here in 2006, or any other casualties 

Another target that was destroyed by Hellfire RX9 Missiles: This list includes al Qaeda targets and an Iranian General.

Hellfire RX9 is a secretive joint venture between the CIA & the DOD. It was created during Obama’s administration.

It was designed to minimize civilian casualties and collateral damage from drone strikes that could otherwise cause widespread destruction. 

R9X is 45kg in reinforced metal at the tip. It also has six extended blades to shred targets on impact. 

Below are some victims of one of CIA’s most complex pieces of weaponry.

Abu Khayr al-Masri February 2017 

Abu Al-Khayr al-Masri, second in command of al-Qaeda, is believed to be the first victim of the RX9 rocket. 

Al-Masri and another terrorist were killed in Idlib (Syria) on February 26, 2017. According to, locals at the scene, while suspecting a drone strike, were shocked that there was ‘no real sign of a large explosion’ and that the terrorist leader’s Kia sedan remained largely in tact. 

Jamal Ahmad Mohammad Al Badawi January 2019

This photo provided by the FBI shows Jamal al-Badawi. He was the mastermind behind the the Oct. 12, 2000 attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors

The FBI provided this photo of Jamal al-Badawi. He was the mastermind behind the the Oct. 12, 2000 attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors

On New Year’s Day 2019, Jamal Ahmad Mohammad Al Badawi, a prime suspect in the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, was killed by an R9X missile in Ma’rib Governorate, Yemen. 

The victim was alone at the time of his death, and no other casualties were reported.  

Seventeen American sailors were killed in the bombing attack on USS Cole. He was the most prominent terrorist target US forces in Yemen killed. 

Trump then tweeted: “We have just killed Jamal al-Badawi, the leader in that attack.” Our work against al Qaeda continues. In our battle against Radical Islamic Terrorism, we will not stop! 

Mohibullah – January 2020

A mysterious fund manager of terrorist acts, identified only as Mohibullah by the Afghani government, was shot dead in a strike targeting the northeastern region of Afghanistan in January 2019. 

 He was driving in a car when killed. Mohibullah, a Pakistani citizen. 

General Qassem Soleimani – Janaury 2020 

A demonstrator holds the picture of Qassem Soleimani during a protest against the assassination of the Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani

Protestor holds Qassem Solimani’s picture during protest against assassination by Major-General Qassem Sleimani

It is possible that the R9X missile was used in an air strike against Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian general who was killed in January. This attack sent Washington and Tehran into a state of emergency, though this has never been confirmed. 

The Hill reported that Soleimani died at the height from where he was struck. 

Abu al Qassam al Urduni and Bilal al Sanaani – June 2020 

Hurras al Din leaders Bilal al Sananni and Abu al Qassam al Urduni were murdered in Syria’s Idlib region in June 2020. 

The drone attack also struck the car they were in, just like al-Masri. Similar to al-Masri, the local authorities reported that there was no explosion in their car and that it remained intact.

Al Urduni was a friend of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (a key US target), who was bombed to death in 2006. 

Abu Yahya al-Uzbeki – August 2020 

Abu Yahya al-Uzbeki, a military trainer for al-Qaeda was shot to death by what one source described as a 100-pound flying switchblade’ on August 2020.

Al-Uzbeki was also a Hurras Al-Din employee at the time of Al-Uzbeki’s death.

Abu Hamzah al-Yemini – June 2022

Abu Hamzah al-Yemini was the leader of Hurras al Din and was shot to death in northern Syria on 29 June 2018. 

Abu Hamzah al Yemeni was on his own motorcycle when the strike occurred,” US Central Command claimed in a statement. It also stated that an initial review had not revealed any civilian casualties.

Multiple experts stated that al-Yemini’s murder scene showed all the characteristics of the RX9 rocket.