Middle East governments welcome 'eradication' of terrorism after Al Zawahiri's killing

Egyptian-born terrorist took over Al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces in Pakistan in 2011

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Countries across the Middle East welcomed the US announcement of the killing of Al Qaeda head Ayman Al Zawahiri at the weekend, as the world reacted to the news that one of the world's most wanted men was dead.

While Zawahiri and his deceased co-conspirator Osama Bin Laden gained global notoriety for the 9/11 attacks against the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon, they unleashed a storm of global terrorism that primarily claimed lives in the Middle East and Muslim-majority countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and Kuwait joined countries across the region welcoming the demise of a man they roundly condemned as a terrorist.

“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia welcomed the announcement by US President Joe Biden of the targeting and killing of the terrorist leader of Al Qaeda, Ayman Al Zawahiri,” the Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The statement came shortly after Mr Biden announced that the US had killed Al Zawahiri, one of the masterminds of the September 11, 2001 attacks, in a drone strike in Kabul.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry said he was “considered one of the leaders of terrorism that led the planning and execution of heinous terrorist operations in the United States, Saudi Arabia and a number of other countries”.

“Thousands of innocent people of different nationalities and religions, including Saudi citizens, were killed,” the statement said.

“The kingdom's government stressed the importance of strengthening co-operation and concerted international efforts to combat and eradicate terrorism, calling on all countries to co-operate in this framework to protect innocent people from terrorist organisations.”

Egyptian-born Al Zawahiri, 71, took over Al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces in Pakistan in 2011, and had a $25 million US bounty on his head.

A senior administration official said the US strike was conducted by a drone that fired two Hellfire missiles into the third floor of Al Zawahiri's Kabul home — killing him, but no one else.

“We are confident through our intelligence sources and methods including multiple streams of intelligence that we killed Zawahiri and no other individual,” the official said.

Mr Biden said justice had been delivered after the US killing of Al Zawahiri.

“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,” Mr Biden said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Al Zawahiri’s death represented a “step towards a safer world”.

“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,” Mr Trudeau tweeted.

Former US president Barack Obama joined in praise of the operation.

“Tonight’s news is also proof that it’s possible to root out terrorism without being at war in Afghanistan,” Mr Obama said in a Twitter message. “And I hope it provides a small measure of peace to the 9/11 families and everyone else who has suffered at the hands of Al Qaeda.”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that an “aerial attack” was carried out on a residence in the Sherpur area of the city.

Mr Mujahid said the Taliban condemned the attack in the strongest terms.

“The Islamic Emirate condemns this attack in the strongest possible terms and considers it a clear violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement,” his tweet said.

“Such actions are a repetition of twenty years of failed experiences and are against the interests of the United States of America, Afghanistan and the region. Repetition of such practices will damage existing opportunities,” he added.

Meanwhile, Kuwait joined regional countries to welcome the announcement by the US.

“The ministry stressed the State of Kuwait's full support for all international efforts seeking to eradicate the phenomenon of terrorism so that humanity and the world would enjoy safety, security and stability,” the foreign ministry said.

Bahrain also welcomed the announcement of the targeting and killing of Al Zawahiri.

In a statement, the Bahraini Foreign Ministry hailed as “prominent” the US role in combating terrorism and resisting its organisations.

“The Foreign Ministry asserts Bahrain’s firm stance rejecting all forms of violence, extremism and terrorism,” it said.

It stressed the need for the international community to join forces to uproot terrorism, dry up its resources and pursue its leaders and criminal elements.

In Jordan, a spokesman for the country's foreign ministry said that that the killing of Al Qaeda leader “represents a firm message that there is no room for terrorism and terrorists.”

“Terrorism is a common enemy, and Jordan continues to work with its partners in countering terrorism and resisting its organisations that seek to undermine security and stability,” the spokesman said in a statement.

Updated: August 02, 2022, 10:10 PM