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The hellfire missile strike, which eliminated al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri and resulted in no reported civilian casualties, was an extraordinary tactical counterterrorism success. Zawahri, who was indicted in 1998 for his role in planning the bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa, was a high value target, whom the intelligence community has hunted for decades.
But the strike also reflected a strategic failure because the same toxic mixture of a Taliban regime providing sanctuary to al Qaeda, which resulted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, has been repeated following the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer.
Afghanistan has morphed into a failed terrorist state. Both al Qaeda and ISIS have a growing presence, which threatens the region and beyond.
For the Taliban, their past is prologue. As they did before 9/11, the Taliban is deliberately providing safe haven to al Qaeda. Zawahri was killed on a balcony in the Sherpur district of downtown Kabul, a stone’s throw from the former British embassy. Taliban acting Minister of Interior Sirajuddin Haqqani, whom the U.S. Department of State designated a Global Terrorist in 2008 over the Haqqani Network’s