Splinter groups may retaliate Al-Zawahiri’s assassination by the US

Experts highlight need for comprehensive global strategy to tackle terrorism amidst US announcement of a drone killing of the world’s most wanted terrorists.

Ayman al-Zawahiri Killed | CIA drone strike in Afghanistan | Al-Qaeda Leader Killed |
Al-Qaida Head Ayman al-Zawahiri killed by two missiles, announces US. (Image Source: AP)

One year after the US troops left Afghanistan in a mess, paving the way for a complete takeover by Taliban, President Biden has made a sudden announcement of a drone killing of the world’s most wanted terrorists and a mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Al-Zawahiri. 

This announcement by the Biden administration comes at a time when Afghanistan completed almost a year since it fell to Taliban 2.0.

The al-Qaeda mastermind was an Egyptian-born surgeon who assumed the leadership of the terrorist body after the killing of Osama bin Laden. There was a bounty of almost USD 25 billion on his head and he had helped in coordinating the Sept 11, 2001 attack in the US in which almost 3,000 people were killed.

Reports in the public domain indicate that at the time of assassinating the al-Qaeda leader was standing alone on the balcony on July 31, and his family was inside the house but they were not the target.

The images indicate that the windows were blown out on one floor, but the rest of the structure was still in place. This proves that the Hellfire R9X missile which was fired did not cause any other damage.

What does the killing of Al-Zawahiri mean? Experts Views

Sharing his views with Financial Express OnlineAmbassadorAnil Trigunayat says, “Ayaman al-Zawahiri has been at the helm of al-Qaeda affairs after the killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2011. He has been a key ideologue and organizational expert and has been able to spawn new groups and keep them connected in the centrifugal process from Africa to Asia to elsewhere. His killing by the US drone will leave the Central organisation at a loss in the short-term.”

Impact on Taliban

“The fact remains how the Taliban will cope up with the contradiction that they claim no connection. On the other hand, the Pakistani managed Haqqani network controls Kabul and they could not have survived without their knowledge or connivance. Perhaps the Pakistani deep state would have decided to let him go by sharing Intel with the Americans,” Ambassador Trigunayat opines.

According to him, “There was a recent visit by a senior adviser to Pak PM Sharif whose interactions with State Dept and others were kept under wraps. For Biden Administration it is a victory of sorts as they seem to have avenged 9/11 terrorist carnage and Jawahiri has been carrying a huge bounty. However, greater vigilance would be needed as the splinter groups might retaliate on soft targets. Taliban has also been placed in a quandary as they have criticized US strike as violation of international law. However, bottom line is that to fight terrorism a comprehensive global strategy is required getting out of the ad hoc syndrome.”

What is the significance of his elimination?

“Ayman al-Zawahiri’s elimination is significant for a variety of reasons. Firstly, that he had taken shelter in Kabul exposes the hollowness of the Taliban’s commitments of not allowing Afghanistan to become a shelter for global terrorist organisation. Secondly, he was reportedly hiding in a safe house in the area where foreign embassies were located including the building where the Indian technical team is currently located is a cause of serious concern. Thirdly, it underlines the nexus between Pakistani establishment and current Afghan ruling dispensation as Zawahiri reportedly arrived in Kabul from Pakistan earlier this year. Notwithstanding, it underlines the vulnerability of Afghanistan nearly a year after the chaotic US withdrawal in 2021,” explains Md Muddassir Quamar, Associate Fellow, Manohar Parrikar Institute of Defence Studies & Analyses.

How important is this from International Terrorism point of view?

According to Md Muddassir Quamar, “This is a significant win for the US, and the global community, which has waged a sustained war on terror since 2001. Zawahiri was a close aide of eliminated al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, and was allegedly the mastermind of numerous international act of terrorism, especially targeting the US and its interest.”

And for India, what does it mean?

“Zawahiri’s elimination bodes well for India’s counter-terrorism efforts as he has in the past few years repeatedly emphasised on waging jihad in Kashmir and attracting Indian youths to the global terror networks through his video/audio messages. The killing is likely to further diminish al-Qaeda’s capabilities and terror network. The ideological underpinnings of jihadist terror, which al-Qaeda mastered and globalised, however, remains alive and relevant, and this can only be countered through sustained counter-terror and counter-radicalisation efforts at national and international levels through bilateral and multilateral cooperation,” Md Muddassir Quamar opines.

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First published on: 02-08-2022 at 23:42 IST