Top terrorist leaders killed in US operations since 9/11 attack

US military operations eliminated many top terrorist figures, latest of which was al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri.

Top terrorist leaders killed in US operations since 9/11 attack

Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, in which roughly 3,000 lives were taken when al-Qaeda hijackers struck the financial and political capitals of the US, Washington has hunted top terrorist leaders overseas.

In its latest operation, the US killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone attack in Afghanistan over the weekend in what President Joe Biden said was a "clear demonstration" of American resolve to carry out its fight against the terrorist group.

"Now justice has been delivered, and this terrorist leader is no more," Biden said.

Zawahiri had long evaded the US attempts to kill or capture him. He led the US-designated terrorist group in 2011 when American forces killed al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

Zawahiri was originally from Egypt and had spent decades in al-Qaeda, serving as its deputy leader under bin Laden before assuming the mantle over a decade ago. He was believed to have plotted the 2000 attack on the USS Cole naval destroyer in Yemen in which 17 US sailors were killed and helped coordinate Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon.

The US had offered a reward of up to $25 million for information on him under its Rewards for Justice program.

Major operations

In February, Biden announced that US forces had killed Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi in Syria, who was named the leader of the Daesh/ISIS terror group in 2019 after the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi earlier that year.

In March, the Daesh/ISIS terror group confirmed the killing of its leader al-Qurayshi.

In October 2019, former US President Donald Trump announced the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Daesh/ISIS chief who led the terrorist group's major takeover of large swathes of territory in Iraq in the summer of 2014 before taking vast territory in Syria.

Baghdadi, who was born in Iraq, blew himself up during an Oct. 26 raid by US forces in Idlib, Syria, with military and intelligence cooperation between Türkiye and the US, according to Trump.

In September 2019, Trump confirmed the death of Hamza bin Laden, son of slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in a US counter-terrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.

Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011 in a covert operation carried out in Abbottabad, Pakistan, at a compound where he was holed up. He claimed responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York's Twin Towers and the Pentagon attack that day.

Those attacks were carried out using three passenger planes hijacked by al-Qaeda operatives. A fourth plane, bound for either the White House or the Capitol, crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after passengers attempted to retake it from the hijackers.

Nearly 3,000 people, including citizens of roughly 77 countries, were killed that day.

Hüseyin Demir

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