Saudi Arabia welcomed the US announcement that a CIA drone strike killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri in Afghanistan, the foreign ministry said in a statement released on Tuesday.
The US Department of State announced on Monday that the US had killed al-Zawahri, one of the world's most-wanted terrorists and a mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks, in a drone strike in Kabul.
On Tuesday, the Kingdom welcomed the announcement, with the statement from the foreign ministry reading: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia welcomed the announcement by US President Joe Biden of the targeting and killing of the terrorist leader of al-Qaeda Ayman al-Zawahri.”
The Saudi foreign ministry said he was “considered one of the leaders of terrorism that led the planning and execution of heinous terrorist operations in the United States, Saudi Arabia and a number of other countries of the world.”
“Thousands of innocent people of different nationalities and religions, including Saudi citizens, were killed,” the statement said.
“The Kingdom's government stressed the importance of strengthening cooperation and concerted international efforts to combat and eradicate terrorism, calling on all countries to cooperate in this framework to protect innocent people from terrorist organizations.”
In a press statement, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that US President Joe Biden last year committed to the American people that, following the withdrawal of US forces, the United States would “continue to protect our country and act against terrorist threats emanating from Afghanistan.”
The statement added: “The President made clear that we would not hesitate to protect the Homeland. With the operation that delivered justice to Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of of al-Qaeda, we have made good on that commitment, and we will continue to do so in the face of any future threats.”
“We were able to do so in this instance — and will be positioned to do so going forward — as a result of the skill and professionalism of our intelligence and counterterrorism community colleagues, for whom the President and I are deeply grateful.”
The statement said that by hosting and sheltering the leader of al-Qaeda in Kabul, the Taliban “grossly violated the Doha Agreement and repeated assurances to the world that they would not allow Afghan territory to be used by terrorists to threaten the security of other countries.”
It added: “They also betrayed the Afghan people and their own stated desire for recognition from and normalization with the international community.”
“In the face of the Taliban’s unwillingness or inability to abide by their commitments, we will continue to support the Afghan people with robust humanitarian assistance and to advocate for the protection of their human rights, especially of women and girls.”
“The world is a safer place following the death of al-Zawahri, and the United States will continue to act resolutely against those who would threaten our country, our people, or our allies and partners.”
Egyptian-born al-Zawahri took over al-Qaeda after Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces in Pakistan in 2011, and had a $25 million US bounty on his head.
A senior US administration official said al-Zawahri was on the balcony of a house in Kabul when he was targeted with two Hellfire missiles, an hour after sunrise on July 31.
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