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Who Gave Zawahiri’s Location to US? Afghan's Defence or Foreign Affairs Minister? Pak Hand Clear | Exclusive

By: Manoj Gupta

CNN-News18

Last Updated: August 03, 2022, 20:10 IST

New Delhi, India

Ayman al-Zawahiri took over as chief of terrorist group al-Qaeda after the death of Osama Bin Laden (Image: Reuters File)

Ayman al-Zawahiri took over as chief of terrorist group al-Qaeda after the death of Osama Bin Laden (Image: Reuters File)

That he was killed in Kabul is a testament to not only the porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, but also to Al Qaeda's decades-long use of facilities, houses, buildings and compounds throughout both countries, a US official said

Who revealed al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s location in Afghanistan’s Kabul to the United States? This is a question hounding the Afghanistan’s top Taliban leadership, as it has given jolt to their reputation.

An American drone strike killed al-Zawahiri, a key plotter of the 9/11 terrorist attacks who took over as the leader of al-Qaeda after Osama bin Laden’s death, at a safe house in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden announced on Monday. Al-Zawahiri was the No. 2 in al-Qaeda when the group conducted the September 11 terror attacks, and American officials considered him a central plotter.

While he lacked the charismatic leadership of bin Laden, he profoundly shaped al-Qaeda and its terrorist movements with his writing and arguments.

Deliberations are on in Taliban on how to go ahead with this.

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Saying they didn’t know about his presence would come across as a big lie as the spot where he was killed is just 600 meters from the Presidential Palace.

On the other hand, accepting that they knew would be admitting to breach of agreement.

After the US drone strike that killed al-Zawahiri, members of the terror group Haqqani network had tried to conceal that the al-Qaeda leader was at the house in Kabul, which reportedly was owned by a top aide to Sirajuddin Haqqani, and restricted access to the site, said PTI, quoting a New York Times report.

Sirajuddin Haqqani is the interior minister in the Taliban government in Kabul.

ALSO READ | Two Presidents, Two Al-Qaeda Leaders & Similar Strikes: How US Followed Bin Laden’s Blueprint to Kill Ayman al-Zawahiri

The US claims that the Taliban violated the peace agreement by letting Zawahiri into the country. The Taliban claims the US violated the peace agreement by conducting a strike.

DEFENCE MINISTER OR FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER?

According to sources, the Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar had issues with the Haqqani Group. The Haqqani network is an Islamist terror outfit founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, who emerged as a top Afghan warlord and insurgent commander during the anti-Soviet war.

ALSO READ | Did Taliban Leak Zawahiri’s Kabul Location to US? Had They Asked Al-Qaida to Leave? Exclusive

The suspicion is that Mullah Yaqoob, Afghanistan’s defence minister and son of the late Taliban founder Mullah Omar, disclosed Zawahiri’s location during his recent visit to Qatar, said sources.

Another person being suspected of leaking the information is Afghanistan’s Foreign Affairs Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi. Muttaqi has properties, real estate and many other business interest in Pakistan.

PAKISTAN’S ROLE CLEAR

According to sources, Afghanistan is clear that Pakistan leaked the location.

Sources claim the move helped Pakistan get the bounty of 25 million USD on Zawahiri, International Monetary Fund loan and clearance from the Financial Action Task Force.

According to top intelligence sources, Zawahiri was in Karachi and was moved to Kabul through the Chaman border. Only the Haqqani network was aware of this, said sources, adding, even the deputy PM Abdul Ghani Baradar was not aware of it.

ALSO READ | US Drone to Kill Zawahiri Used Pak Airspace, Flew From a Middle-Eastern Country: Source | Exclusive

That he was killed in Kabul is a testament to not only the porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, but also to Al Qaeda’s decades-long use of facilities, houses, buildings and compounds throughout both countries, the NYT report said, citing a US official.

And unlike the relatively sleepy city of Abbottabad, Pakistan, where Bin Laden was killed by a commando raid in 2011, his successor apparently spent the last weeks of his life right smack in the Afghan capital, it said.

With PTI Inputs

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first published:August 03, 2022, 20:06 IST
last updated:August 03, 2022, 20:10 IST