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Ayman Al Zawahiri, the terrorist killed in a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan Monday, was a top deputy to al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden before taking the helm of the organization after his predecessor’s death in 2011.
A drone strike on a Kabul home took him out over the weekend, Fox News reported earlier.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed and condemned the attack on Twitter, calling it “a clear violation of international principles,” according to a translation of the thread. However, the 2020 Doha Agreement, which preceded the Biden administration’s highly criticized withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan last year, called for the Taliban to combat terrorism within the country.
Al Zawahiri was also a doctor and founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad terror group, which later merged with al-Qaeda, according to authorities.
Al Zawahiri, 71, was listed as one of the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists, and there was a $25 million reward for his capture.
He succeeded bin Laden as al Qaeda’s leader in 2011 after a team of Navy SEALs killed him in Pakistan.
The Egyptian-born terrorist helped plot the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and was wanted in connection with the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya as well as the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, according to the State Department.
He had publicly urged terrorists to attack the U.S. and Western allies and abduct citizens.
The embassy bombings killed 224 people, including 12 Americans, and injured more than 4,500 other victims. The attack on the USS Cole killed 17 U.S. sailors.
Other conspirators in the attacks, including bin Laden and Muhammad Atef, have already been killed.
Seven other suspects in the embassy bombings are serving life prison sentences.
In his youth, al Zawahiri was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, according to the State Department. He went to medical school and became an eye surgeon before joining forces with bin Laden in the mid 1980s. They became close during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
According to documents seized at bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, al Zawahiri graduated from the al Qasr al Ain medical school at Cairo University in 1974. Ideologically he opposed secular governments, and he was arrested in 1981 after the assassination of former Egyptian President Mohammad Anwar Al-Sadat on a charge of carrying a weapon without a license.
More recently, he denounced the Islamic State group for its brutality in Iraq and Syria.
Another al-Qaeda leader sought in connection with the embassy bombings, Saif al Adel, remains on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.
Al Zawahiri is also the father-in-law of Abd al Rahman al Maghrebi, another senior al Qaeda leader.
Fox News’ Matteo Cina, Ronn Blitzer and Hollie McKay contributed to this report.