Media has identified what appears to be the house in Kabul, Afghanistan, hit by a Hellfire missile attack and where al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed while on the balcony.
The identification was made through the geolocation and verification of the authenticity of three photos that have been circulating on social networks since Sunday, in addition to using high-resolution satellite archive images.
The attack, which took place at 9:48 p.m. ET on Saturday and early Sunday in Kabul, was authorized by US President Joe Biden after weeks of meetings with his cabinet and top advisers.
Images show Kabul home where al-Qaeda leader is presumed to have been killed
The attack killed the 71-year-old al Qaeda leader, once Osama bin Laden’s personal physician, who rose to the top of the terror organization after US forces killed bin Laden in 2011.
The house, located in the Sherpur neighborhood of the Afghan capital, is surrounded by several houses and buildings to the north, south and west. Directly east of the house is the Omaid Institute.
About 300 meters southeast of the house is the UK embassy in Kabul. According to the UK Foreign Office, all diplomatic and consular staff are “temporarily withdrawn” from the country.
The house is in an area called the Green Zone, where most of Afghanistan’s former government officials used to live.
Zawahiri was sheltering in central Kabul to reunite with his family, Biden said in his speech Monday night announcing the attack, and was killed in what a senior administration official described as “a precise airstrike on measure” with two Hellfire missiles.
Before giving the order to kill the terrorist leader, Biden wanted to know intimately the surroundings in which he was hiding.
Among the preparations was a small-scale mockup of Zawahiri’s shelter, built by intelligence officials and placed inside the White House Situation Room for Biden to examine while he debated his options.
The Sherpur area of Kabul used to be a former military base, but during the years of civil conflict and the Taliban era in the 1990s, it became virtually useless. In 2003, the Afghan Ministry of Defense abandoned it and the government divided it into more than 50 parcels, handing them over to powerful people such as government ministers and other high-ranking officials, as well as warlords and drug traffickers. Their houses soon earned the nickname “poppy palaces.”
Following the fall of Ashraf Ghani’s government in August 2021, most of the Sherpur homeowners fled the country and their homes were confiscated by the Taliban.
It is not clear who owns the house in which Zawahiri was killed or whether it is one of those confiscated houses.
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