Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was killed in a drone strike was staying at a house in Kabul owned by a top aide to a senior Taliban minister. According to a senior intelligence official, al-Zawahiri, 71, was hiding out with his family at a downtown Kabul property owned by a top aide to senior Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani.
This has once again raised questions if the Taliban government has once again welcomed Al Qaeda back into Afghanistan. The Taliban had previously developed ties with the terrorist organization back in the 1990s and early 2000s. al-Zawahiri took over as al Qaida leader after Osama bin Laden's death in a U.S. raid a decade ago.
Afghanistan Promoting Terrorism
A CIA drone strike killed al-Zawahri in Afghanistan, according to five people familiar with the matter. Al-Zawahiri's death in a drone strike was first reported to current and former officials on Sunday afternoon, but the government withheld the information until it could be verified.
Five persons familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed the strike, which was carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) before Biden was scheduled to brief the American people about the operation in a 7:30 p.m. EDT speech to the country.
According to White House officials, the United States carried out a "successful" counterterrorism operation on a significant al Qaida target. However, they who declined to confirm al-Zawahiri was killed. They also said that "there were no civilian casualties."
However, news of al-Zawahiri's death comes with more shocking revelations. According to a senior intelligence official, a prominent aide to senior Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani owned the home where Al-Zawahiri was hiding when he was killed.
Haqqani is the deputy interior minister in the present Afghanistan government.
This has now raised speculation over whether this living arrangement might worsen existing issues between the West and Afghanistan, which is governed by the Taliban. It also raises questions if the Taliban government has once again started entertaining Al Qaeda, which it did in the 1990s and 2000s.
It comes after Biden's officials claimed that al-Kabul Zawahiri's residence was known to the Haqqani Network leaders.
"Immediately after the strike, Haqqani operatives sealed off the area and relocated Zawahiri's relatives. A damning indictment of Taliban credibility," said director of the Middle East Institute, Charles Lister.
It would lend more support to recent US intelligence reports that the Taliban government, known officially as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, has permitted al Qaeda to reemerge in Afghanistan after seizing power there last year.
Terrorism's Breeding Ground
Al-Qaeda was enjoying a "safe haven" in Afghanistan under the Taliban, UN security intelligence analysts had warned in June. They also said warned that Afghanistan might once again serve as a springboard for worldwide terrorist attacks.
Following the drone strike location reveal, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said: "This news sheds light on the possible re-emergence of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan following President Biden's disastrous withdrawal a year ago."
"The Biden administration must provide Congress with a classified briefing as soon as possible to discuss the resurgence of al-Qaeda in the region over the past year, the current foreign terrorist threat to America, and the steps we must take to keep our country safe and prevent terrorists from entering the United States."
Bill Roggio, a military analyst and managing editor of The Long War Journal, told the DailyMail.com ahead of Biden's address to the nation he would celebrate Zawahiri's killing as a win.
"The message tonight is going to be that this was a huge counter-terrorism success. But really this means that al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan and never left." Roggio said.
Al-Qaeda, the Islamist group, ruled over Afghanistan between 1996 to 2001, after the Taliban developed relationships with them.
According to reports, Al-Qaeda paid the Taliban $20 million a year to operate in Afghanistan as the terrorist group planned its attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, which resulted in the deaths of over 3,000 people.
The US attacked and fragmented al-Qaida during the 20-year war in Afghanistan, forcing leaders into hiding. As the Taliban and al-Qaida split into various factions and spread throughout the region, ISIS emerged in 2014.
After the US left Afghanistan in September of last year, Al-Qaida had a chance to reorganize.
Zawahiri's death is perhaps the biggest proof in recent times that Al-Qaeda is back in Afghanistan. And this comes despite the Taliban and Donald Trump's government signing the Doha peace deal in 2020, claiming that it would keep ISIS and al-Qaida out of Afghanistan.