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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Questions arising after the Killing of Ayman al-Zawahiri

Ayman al-Zawahiri, the chief of Al Qaeda (AQ), was killed in an airstrike by the US, leading to many questions

The leader of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was infamous for his involvement in the 9/11 attacks, the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, as well as the 2000 attack on the USS Cole. On July 31, he was killed by a US drone attack.

According to a report from the UN Security Council dated July 15, Zawahiri was attempting to recruit supporters of al-Qaida by assuring them that his group was prepared to take on the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) and retake the position of the organization in charge of the world’s “jehad” against the US. However, the assessment concludes that due to a lack of resources and Taliban restrictions, AQ and its offshoot organizations are unlikely to conduct strikes outside of Afghanistan in the foreseeable future.

Read more: Zawahiri is Gone, But Not the Terrorism

But his killing might help Biden stem the tide of public disapproval. Many believe that the Taliban revealed Zawahiri’s whereabouts following talks with the US to gain access to the blocked assets.

The Taliban’s spokesperson, Zabiullah Mujahid, denounced the strike and said it was against both international norms and the Doha Agreement of 2020. Similarly, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken charged that by protecting Zawahiri, the Taliban had broken the terms of the Doha Agreement.

The issue of whether Pakistan allowed the US access to its airspace for the attack also comes up. The US Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman, and Pakistani Army Chief Qamar Jawed Bajwa spoke on the phone last week, according to Pakistani media. In order to prevent a default on the renewed loan programme, Bajwa reportedly asked Wendy to lobby the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the early disbursement of $1.2 billion to Pakistan.

The Taliban, Pakistan, and the US may have coinciding interests, one of which is to maintain internal stability in Afghanistan in order to prevent any spillover effects, as has previously occurred. This issue is particularly significant for the security of Pakistan.