WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will announce Monday that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a CIA counter-terrorism attack in Afghanistan, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.
The Associated Press was the first to report that al-Zawahiri was killed in the operation.
Without confirming the target’s identity, a senior Biden administration official said “the strike was successful and there were no civilian casualties.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
Biden will speak from the White House at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Before climbing to the top ranks in the al-Qaeda network, Al-Zawahiri, 71, a physician and founder of Egypt’s Islamic Jihad, was one of the architects behind the devastating September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
In the weeks following the September 11 attacks, the Taliban provided al-Qaeda with a haven while the US mobilized for what would be its longest war.
Al-Zawahiri succeeded Osama bin Laden as head of al-Qaeda in 2011.
Osama bin Laden (L) sits with his Egyptian adviser Ayman al-Zawahiri associated with the Al Qaeda network during an interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.
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Al-Zawahiri was previously indicted by the US government for his alleged role in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya.
The State Department had previously offered a reward of up to $25 million for information leading to his arrest.
Sunday’s drone attack is the first known CIA counter-terrorism operation since Kabul was killed by the Taliban last year.