Thursday, December 8, 2022

Zawahiri no more, but problem remains

Ayman al-Zawahiri: US kills top al-Qaeda leader in drone strike in  Afghanistan | Middle East Eye
Osama bin Laden, al Zawahiri

The Egyptian eye doctor-turned-terrorist and the chief of al Qaeda Ayman al-Zawahiri has been killed by the American drone in the heart of Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan. The drone, which exploded Hellfire missile, was operated from Kabul itself by an unknown person. Zawahiri was killed the same way as his leader and the founder-in-chief of al Qaeda Osama bin Laden near Islamabad in Pakistan eleven years ago. Osama was dispensed with at his secret residence at Abbottabad in Pakistan when Barrak Obama was the president in 2011. The US commandos went to Osama’s residence physically to kill him while Zawahiri was liquidated by a missile used through a drone without anybody going there. Zawahiri was part of many daring operations conducted by al Qaeda. He was involved in a big way in 11 September 2001 attack on twin trade towers in New York. Earlier in August 1998 the group organized an attack on American Embassy in East Africa. Osama bin Laden and his friends were influenced by Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood cleric Sayyid Qutb who was hanged by the government headed by Gamal Abdel Nasser who was a prominent member of non-aligned movement. Nasser worked for world peace with Nehru and Marshal Tito. Then a teenager (he was born on 19 June 1951 in Cairo suburb), Zawahiri had formed an underground organization. That organization had grown as Egyptian Islamic Jihad which later merged with al Qaeda and moved to a base in Sudan a few months ahead of the attack on New York. He was second-in-command after Osama in al-Qaeda hierarchy. He took over al Qaeda after the death of bin Laden. He was constantly in news by rebuilding al Qaeda and placing his lieutenants in important position while the Taliban were fighting against Afghan government. He used to keep sending his messages through videos.

Zawahiri, who was living incognito in Pakistan till the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, had migrated to Afghanistan since he thought living in a Taliban ruled country is a safer bet. Zawahiri’s killing is being hailed as a victory for anti-terrorist forces across the globe. He was a symbol of world terrorism (The US announced a cash reward of 25 million dollars on his head) and his liquidation is a great relief. The US strategists and intelligence agencies have proved to the world that they can strike at will at the objectives in an enemy territory without physically entering it. It is called ‘operation over the horizon.’ It is remarkable that not a single civilian was killed in the operation if we go by the information available till Tuesday afternoon. From 1990s till 2001, Osama and Zawahiri were calling the shots on terrorist front. Zawahiri was killed by drone when he was in balcony of his secret home which was located in a prime area in Kabul where the rich and mighty live.  It is most unlikely that Zawahiri was living there without the knowledge of Taliban government. Which means, Talibs have deliberately violated the Doha accord. A UN committee  has been reporting that Doha accord is not being respected and Zawahiri has been living in Kabul playing the role of an advisor to the Taliban government.

Though it is a moment to be cherished by the world community, there is a nagging point which continues to worry peace lovers. The withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan about a year ago was based on the Doha accord. The much celebrated accord stands exposed and violated. The accord which was reached during the Trump administration and accepted by the succeeding Joe Biden government has been observed only in its breach. According to the Doha agreement, Taliban should have snapped its ties with terrorist organizations such as  al Qaeda, Islamic State and other connected organization in lieu of US withdrawal which was completed on 31 August 2021. By then Taliban had occupied Afghanistan and established its government in Kabul. Sirajuddin Haqqani, son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, the builder of Haqqani network, is the Interior Minister of Afghanistan who is known to be close to al Qaeda. In fact, al Qaeda has been lying low when the Taliban were fighting the American and government troops in Afghanistan.

It is a pity that the Afghan people who are cursed to suffer a medieval regime are being forced to live in a ecosystem that is slowly but steadily turning out to be favourable to terrorist activities once again. Zawahiri announced the establishment of al Qaeda of South Asia and asked the Muslims in India, who are the second largest Muslim community in the world after Indonesia, to rebel against Indian government. But the call did not receive any response and did not find many takers in India. But had he lived for some more years he would have made Afghan government to train and send terrorists to Kashmir.  It is a positive development from Indian point of view. But doing away with a leader would not solve the problem. The ideology has to be faced and defeated if terrorism has to be ceased to bother countries such as India. The questions that the international community has to address remain relevant even after neutralizing Zawahiri, the head of once dreaded organization. The US and other democratic countries should introspect to focus afresh on real issues that breed terrorism and make amendments to their own policies and attitudes.

K. Ramachandra Murthy
K. Ramachandra Murthy
Founder & Editor

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