Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, 71, has been killed by the US in a drone strike in Afghanistan.
Zawahiri’s death was confirmed by president Joe Biden during a televised address in which he also said that the drone attack that killed Zawahiri in Kabul did not result in any civilian casualties.
“Justice has been delivered and this terrorist is no more,” he said.
Zawahiri was the deputy leader of al Qaeda, reporting to Osama bin Laden until bin Laden’s death in May 2011 in a military raid on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
The two were key figures in the planning and execution of the attacks that took place on 11 September 2001, in which 2,977 people were killed.
Four planes were hijacked by 19 al Qaeda adherents and two downed the World Trade Centre while a third was flown into the Pentagon.
A fourth plane was earmarked to fly into a government building in Washington DC but instead ended up crashing in field in Pennsylvania.
Zawahiri was also integral to the planning of the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, which resulted in the deaths of 17 sailors, and was also involved in the planning of the bombings of American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, which saw 223 people killed and more than 4,000.
The death of the long-time al Qaeda figure is the latest in the American pursuit of key figures in global Islamist movements or states that have been deemed state sponsors of terrorism.
Islamic cleric and a prominent propagandist for al-Qaeda Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a drone strike in September 2011, during the Obama administration.
Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi was killed by US forces on 27 October 2019.