Taliban Said They Have Not Found Body of al-Qaeda Leader Allegedly Assassinated in a CIA Drone Strike
On August 1st, Joe Biden emerged from COVID-induced isolation to give a dramatic press conference in which he announced the killing of Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy who was believed to be a mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
An Egyptian doctor convicted of conspiracy in the 1981 death of President Anwar al-Sadat, al-Zawahiri, 71, was allegedly killed by a Hellfire missile in a CIA drone strike authorized by Biden while al-Zawahiri was standing on his balcony in a hideout in the Sherpur area of Kabul.
His presence there—if true—violated the 2020 Doha agreements in which the Taliban agreed to prevent the use of Afghan soil by an international terrorist group against the security of the U.S. and its allies.
After announcing the successful strike, which ended a 21-year mahunt, President Biden told the American public that al-Zawahiri had “carved a trail of murder and violence against American citizens, American service members, American diplomats and American interests…We made it clear again tonight that no matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out.”
But Where Is al-Zawahiri?
There is one problem, however, with Biden’s narrative: The Taliban say that they have not found al-Zawahiri’s body and are continuing investigation.
The Taliban initially confirmed the drone strike but then said the house that was hit was empty.
One Taliban official confirmed that a high-level meeting took place in the house but said he did not know what was being discussed and he did not believe al-Zawahiri was in the house.
U.S. intelligence claimed that the Haqqani network, an ally of the Taliban, had tried to conceal that al-Zawahiri had been at the house and restrict access to the site, though the White House National Security Counsel spokesman admitted that he had no DNA confirmation of al-Zawahiri’s death.
Political Motive Clear
If Biden were lying about al-Zawahiri’s killing in August, the political motive would not be hard to discern: At the time, Biden’s popularity rating was only around 39%—with mid-term elections just around the corner.
Biden was obviously trying to replicate the precedent of Barack Obama, whose popularity rating jumped from 45% to 56% after he announced the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011.
The purported assassination of al-Zawahiri may have also been designed as a warning against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping coming in the midst of the escalating U.S.-led war against Russia in Ukraine, and on the eve of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s provocative visit to Taiwan.
Al-Zawahiri’s alleged presence in Afghanistan could also be used to justify the Biden administration’s hostile policy toward the Taliban—whose aim is to punish them and Afghani people for having humiliated and defeated the U.S. after a 20-year war.
The hostile policies include:
- seizing control of $7 billion in Afghanistan financial assets, held largely at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, rather than returning them to the Afghanistan Central Bank. USA Today reported that “the reserves are needed for essential imports such as food and medicine, but also for the central bank to play its normal role in maintaining a functioning financial system and economic stability.”
- The institution of crippling sanctions on the already war-ravaged nation; suspending the financing of development projects and depriving humanitarian groups’ needed resources.
- Courting and presumably financing anti-Taliban Northern Alliance leaders such as Ahmad Massoud, son of Tajik warlord Ahmad Shah Massoud who, according to The New York Times, has spent the last few years “trying to revive the work of his father [the head of the Northern Alliance who was killed two days before the 9/11 attacks] by assembling a coalition of militias to defend Afghanistan’s north.”
According to the Times, “Courting proxies in Afghanistan calls back to the 1980s and ’90s, when the country was controlled by the Soviets and then devolved into a factional conflict between regional leaders. The West frequently depended on opposing warlords for intelligence—and at times supported them financially through relationships at odds with the Afghan population. Such policies often left the United States, in particular, beholden to power brokers who brazenly committed human rights abuses.”
Reviving an Old Mystery
The possibility of the White House staging al-Zawahiri’s death for political gain should revive lingering questions about the killing of Osama bin Laden in the offensively named Operation Geronimo.
Any attempt to uncover the full truth about what happened to bin Laden was inhibited by the Obama administration’s decision to dump bin Laden’s apparent remains at sea.
Prior to this act, bin Laden’s body was purportedly identified through facial recognition software, which according to the Obama administration, was 90-95 percent accurate, and DNA testing through a match with a half-sister who purportedly died of cancer at the Massachusetts General Hospital. A spokesman for Massachusetts General Hospital, however, was unable to confirm the match.
The failure to engage independent witnesses for verification, or release photos or evidence of his death and the swift disposal of his body left some still convinced that bin laden had died years earlier from renal failure, for which he had received dialysis.
Renowned investigative reporter Seymour Hersh wrote that “Obama’s version of the bin Laden killing was so full of lies, misstatements, and betrayals that it might have been written by Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland.”
Hersh argued that the raid on a secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, was actually an assassination mission carried out by SEAL Team 6 with Pakistani intelligence, which had offered bin Laden protection since he moved to Abbottabad in 2005.
According to journalist Nafeez Ahmed, bin Laden was being protected not just by Pakistani but also Saudi and U.S. intelligence which were continuously using him for covert operations.
Numerous reports of his death may have been part of a disinformation campaign designed to throw people off and hide the fact that bin Laden was still alive—and working as a protected intelligence asset who eventually lost his utility.
In Osama Bin Laden: Dead or Alive? theologian and researcher David Ray Griffin points out that videos featuring bin Laden speaking in the years prior to his death, appeared to be manufactured, probably by the CIA.
Bin Laden looked younger than in earlier videos with a black rather then a gray beard (the U.S. government claimed he died his beard black because of his concern for his image).
He looked heavier and healthier in one tape that was made less than a week after a previous one where he looked gaunt and frail. His hands were lighter and heavier than the real bin Laden and he was seen writing with his right hand when bin Laden was known to be left-handed.
Bin Laden also no longer made many religious references in the later videos, quoting instead from leftist U.S. authors like William Blum and Noam Chomsky he is unlikely to have read.
Codevilla added that “the video and audio tapes alleged to be Osama’s never convince the impartial observer. The guy just does not look like Osama. Some videos show him with a Semitic, aquiline nose, while others show him with a shorter, broader one. Next to that, differences between the colors and styles of his beard are small stuff.”
Months after bin Laden’s alleged killing, 17 members of SEAL Team 6, including many thought to have been involved in bin Laden’s killing, died in a helicopter crash in the Wardak province of Afghanistan. Many suspect that the SEALs were sent on a suicide mission to prevent them from ever speaking out about what they knew.
After bin Laden was killed, the Obama administration reeleased photos showing an old man looking like bin Laden watching TV allegedly in his hideout in Abbotabad. But it is not clear when or where the photo was actually taken, and it is odd that he would look so much older than he did in the publicly released video from 2007.
The lack of verification about the official circumstances surrounding al-Zawahiri’s and bin Laden’s deaths should generally arouse the public suspicion and demand a congressional investigation—especially knowing that almost all wars in American history have been based on deception.
- These abuses included the massacre of 1,632 Taliban prisoners by Northern Alliance militias under the command of Uzbek warlord Rashid Dostum (later Afghanistan’s Vice President under U.S. puppet Ashraf Ghani] in the Leili desert near the town of Sheberghan in Jowzjan province, North Afghanistan, in the late 1990s, which set the groundwork for many others after the U.S.-NATO invasion. Karl F. Inderfurth, “Afghanistan: Meeting with the Taliban,” From Secretary of State Washington, D.C., to American Consul Peshawar, December 1997, Clinton Presidential Records, NSC Cables, January 1995-December 1996, box 5, Bill Clinton Presidential Library, Little Rock, Arkansas, discusses the Leili desert massacre and U.S. complicity and silence. ↑
- See Jeremy Kuzmarov, Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting the Foreign Policy of the Permanent Warfare State (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2019), 177. A Pakistani newspaper reported on bin Laden’s death from a lung illness in December 2001. After the 2011 Navy SEAL raid, a U.S. Army investigator said that bin Laden’s youngest wife, Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah, 29, who was shot by commandos in the leg, said that “bin Laden had recovered from two kidney operations a decade or more ago in southern Afghanistan, in part by using homemade remedies, including watermelon.” ↑
- See Seymour Hersh, The Killing of Osama bin Laden (London: Verso, 2017). ↑
- David Ray Griffin, Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive? (Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2011), 30. Computer experts said it was technically feasible to manufacture the tape and employ an actor as bin Laden. The authenticity of the tapes is put into question further by bin Laden’s claims that the hijackers only learned of their mission “just before they boarded the planes.” This is impossible because they had to have planned to fly airplanes well in advance and could never have found their way to the targets (World Trade Center, Pentagon) without knowing the coordinates of their destination beforehand. The bin Laden on the tapes also claimed the alleged 9/11 hijackers did not know each other in advance, when FBI reports had them working in pairs and mingling together. Griffin also suggests that bin Laden’s background as a building contractor meant that he would never have made a statement attributed to him that the iron structure of the World Trade Center would melt from the plane crash. The building was actually made of steel and would require being heated to around 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit when a building fire by jet fuel could only reach around 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. The FBI may not have considered the “bin Laden confession tape” to be authentic as they never put bin Laden on the FBI’s Most Wanted list for the 9/11 attacks. If the CIA manufactured the videos they could not only keep the myth of bin Laden alive but also continue their long campaign to demonize the political left in the U.S. and discredit Blum’s well-researched book, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, along with writings by Noam Chomsky which were critical of U.S. foreign policy. Bin Laden in one of the videos praised a book by Jimmy Carter about the Israel-Palestine conflict. How bin Laden would have received these books, translated into Arabic, in hiding remains uncertain, nor why he would not base his understanding from personal experiences and local and Islamic sources.
- Quoted in Griffin, Osama bin Laden, x. ↑
- Quoted in Griffin, Osama bin Laden, 16. ↑
Jeremy Kuzmarov is Managing Editor of CovertAction Magazine. He is the author of four books on U.S. foreign policy, including Obama’s Unending Wars (Clarity Press, 2019) and The Russians Are Coming, Again, with John Marciano (Monthly Review Press, 2018). He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.