HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - President Joe Biden said he ordered the killing of a dangerous terrorist in Afghanistan who was deeply involved in the planning of 9/11 and the mastermind behind the bombing of the USS Cole.
Biden said Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed on Saturday during an airstrike in Kabul, Afghanistan.
According to Biden, al-Zawahiri was one of the people most responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks that killed 2,977 people on American soil. Biden also said al-Zawahiri was the mastermind behind several other attacks against Americans, including the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, which killed 17 American Sailors and wounded dozens more.
al-Zawahiri played a key role in the bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 and wounding over 4,500 others.
On October 12, 2000, while headed to the Persian Gulf, the USS Cole made a fuel stop in Yemen. The FBI says two suicide terrorists on a boat pulled up next to the USS Cole, made friendly gestures to several crew members and then detonated their explosives, killing 17 sailors and injuring 39 others.
Signalman Seaman Cherone Louis Gunn, 22, was one of the Sailors who was killed.
“He was a great man,” Jamal Gunn, Cherone Gunn's brother, told News 3.
Jamal Gunn said his brother would have taken the world as his oyster and lived life to the fullest.
Tuesday, he said, “This guy (Ayman al-Zawahiri) didn’t just have a major part of my brother‘s death. He had a major part in al-Qaeda overall, so I’m glad to see him brought to justice.”
The President said al-Zawahiri “carved a trail of murder and violence against American citizens, American service members, American diplomats and American interests. And since the United States delivered justice to bin Laden 11 years ago, Zawahiri has been a leader of al Qaeda, the leader from hiding. He coordinated al Qaeda's branches and all around the world, including setting priorities for providing operational guidance and calling for and inspired attacks against U.S. targets.”
Biden said the intelligence community found al-Zawahiri earlier this year and Saturday he authorized a precision strike.
He said none of al-Zawahiri's other family members or civilians were killed.