Notorious Al Qaeda terror group leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was reported to have died in a drone strike over the weekend in Kabul, Afghanistan. President Biden announced the news from the balcony of the White House. But you’ll forgive some people if they fall into the “trust but verify camp” on al-Zawahiri-is-dead news.
You see, the world was also told that al-Zawahiri died before. Task and Purpose inserted natural skepticism about Monday’s news in a story headlined, “Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda deputy is totally dead for real this time.” The military website acknowledged that “after mistakenly being declared dead several times in the past, Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s death has been officially announced – presumably for the final time – by President Joe Biden on Monday.”
Zawahiri was also thought to be dead in 2020. Democrat think tank The Brookings Institution said, “al-Zawahri may be dead or at least appears to be ‘completely off the grid,’ according to journalist and veteran jihadi-watcher Hassan Hassan. These reports come at the same time as the killing of another very senior al-Qaida leader, Abu Muhammad al-Masri, in Tehran, reportedly by Israeli agents at the behest of the United States.”
It wasn’t until the following year that the world learned that reports of his demise were premature. Zawahiri appeared in a video to commemorate the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that killed 2,977 Americans in three airplane attacks.
In 2008, Zawahiri was reported dead by Pakistani intelligence — making the story immediately suspect to western sources. Longwar Journal’s Bill Roggio reported at the time that “rumors of Zawahiri’s death or wounding began four days after what appears to be a US Predator unmanned aerial vehicle strike on a madrassa in the village of Zeralita in the Azam Warsak region of South Waziristan.” Roggio recounted that “six people, including three Arabs, were reported killed in the attack. The madrassa was said to be a safe house and meeting place for senior al Qaeda commanders.” CBS later reported that Zawahiri was gravely wounded in the attack. Yet, Zawahiri miraculously rose from the dead or hospital bed.