UPDATED 3:15 PM PT – Thursday, August 4, 2022
The White House and Republican Party leaders delivered vastly different reactions to the recent slaying of a top ”Al-Qaeda” terrorist. While the White House touted the strike on ”Al-Qaeda” leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri at a compound in Afghanistan, Republicans said its only indicative of Afghanistan being a hotspot for terrorists in the region. In a press conference Tuesday, White House National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby asserted the White House ”met its commitment” in regards to controlling terrorist activity in the country.
“As President Biden has consistently said, we will not allow Afghanistan to become a safe haven for terrorists who might bring harm to Americans, to the homeland,” said Kirby. “We met that commitment. This action demonstrates that without American forces on the ground in Afghanistan and in harm’s way, we still remain able to identify and locate even the world’s most wanted terrorist and then take the action to remove him from the battlefield.”
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan added onto Kirby’s statement and said Al-Zawahiri’s death has “undoubtedly made the United States safer.” Sullivan noted that the killing of the terrorist justified Biden’s’ withdrawal from Afghanistan last year and asserted that the US no longer needed to keep thousands of troops there.
“He was the man who was the most inspirational figure, the strategic leader, someone who sent guidance regularly to affiliates around the world,” Sullivan voiced. “Someone who sent out messages inspiring his followers to attack and kill Americans and harm the United States. Someone who tried to hold together a global network of terrorists that could continue to threaten both America and Americans and taking him out has undoubtedly made the United States safer.”
On July 1, President Biden meets with his national security team to discuss the counterterrorism operation to take out Ayman al-Zawahiri. At this meeting, the President was briefed on the proposed operation and shown a model of the safe house where Al-Zawahiri was hiding. pic.twitter.com/W0A0mDk9Lr
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 2, 2022
The White House’s sentiments contrast those of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who pointed to the fact that Al-Zawahri felt safe enough to stay in Kabul and showed the US lack of control of terrorist activities in Afghanistan.
“I want to focus for a minute on the successful strike against Al-Zawahri,” McConnell stated. “Our professionals did an extraordinary job. Congratulations to them, but I think it’s also important to remember that about a year ago, we pulled out of Afghanistan. At the time, the Taliban was out of power and Al-Qaeda was not around. So it is noteworthy where Al-Zawahiri was in Kabul. So Al-Qaeda is back as a result of the Taliban being back in power and describing the current situation in Afghanistan as success is utterly absurd.”
The targeted CIA attack raised questions about the presence of Al-Qaeda which was supposedly purged from the country. There were many questioning whether the Taliban was providing refuge to the group behind numerous attacks against America, including 9-1-1.
Al-Zawarhiri was accused of planning the September 11 attacks as well other bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in the 1990’s, among other attacks.