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The Biden administration is holding out the CIA operation that killed al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri as a monumental strike against the global terror network responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks of 2001.
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White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday that the drone operation that killed al-Zawahri has shown that Afghanistan “isn’t a safe haven,” for the al-Qaida terror network and “it isn’t going to be going forward.”
The drone strike also is putting into stark relief the mounting evidence that after 20 years of America’s military occupation — and then sudden departure — Afghanistan has once again become an active staging ground for Islamic terror groups looking to attack the West.
But as details of the operation continue to emerge, the administration has also revealed troubling evidence of al-Qaida’s presence and of the Taliban once again offering refuge to the group that was behind the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
READ MORE: CIA drone strike kills al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri in Afghanistan
Concerns about al-Qaida efforts to regroup inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan are hardly new.
“We communicated very directly with Taliban leaders our views of their willingness at some level, of course, to harbor al-Zawahri and his family,” Kirby said. He said the Biden administration made it clear that was a violation of the Doha Agreement.
Announcing the strike from the White House, President Joe Biden said Monday night that “justice” had been exacted on a leader who in recent weeks had recorded videos calling for his followers to attack the United States and allies. And the White House on Tuesday framed the operation was an enormous counterterrorism win.
Al-Qaida leadership has reportedly played an advisory role since the Taliban returned to power in the lead up up to the U.S. withdrawal, according to a U.N. Security Council report last month.
The Taliban remain sanctioned by the U.S. government for its role harboring al-Qaida before the 9/11 attacks. After the collapse of the U.S.-backed government in Kabul last summer, the Biden administration froze billions of dollars in assets belonging to Afghanistan’s central bank to prevent the assets from falling under Taliban control. Some of that money has since been freed for humanitarian aid to address the country’s dire hunger crisis.
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