It is not yet clear how long the Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri had been in Afghanistan, but his presence there had been widely rumoured for some time.
The US intelligence indicates that the house where Al-Zawahri was living with his family was owned by a top aide of senior Taliban leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani.
According to the Associated Press (AP), it could be that someone among the Taliban “snitched on” the former eye surgeon and his family.
“Around sunrise, July 31, 2022, Al-Zawahri walked out on the balcony of a house in Kabul, Afghanistan. He apparently lingered outside on the balcony, as US intelligence had noted he often did,” the Associated Press said on their website on Tuesday, August 2.
“A US drone fired two Hellfire missiles at the Al-Qaeda leader as he stood, according to US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the strike,” the AP reported.
Officials said Zawahiri was on the balcony of a safe house when the drone fired two missiles at him.
Other family members were present, but they were unharmed and only Zawahiri was killed.
His presence in Afghanistan had been widely suspected for some time, analysts said.
US officials learned this year that Zawahri’s wife and other family members had moved to a safe house in Kabul recently. Zawahri soon followed, the senior administration officials said.
Senior US officials, joined by top leaders including President Joe Biden, spent several months confirming his identity, and his fateful practice of standing alone on that same balcony, and planned the strike.
Zawahri died aged 71.