Over the weekend, U.S. forces, under orders from President Joe Biden, took out Ayman al-Zawahiri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden as head of the terrorist organization Al Qaeda after he was killed by Obama-led forces in 2011. Zawahiri had long been a high-profile target, and after he was discovered sheltering in downtown Kabul, military forces crafted “a precise tailored airstrike,” taking him out via a drone attack that resulted in zero civilian casualties. As such, Biden did what his predecessor didn’t do — or had very little interest in doing.
Raw Story dug up an an NBC News article from 2020, in which intelligence officials claimed Trump never made Zawahiri a priority, partly because he could never recognize his name. Instead officials told reporters he was more interested in bin Laden’s son, in part because, unlike with Zawahiri, he could remember his name.
“He would say, ‘I’ve never heard of any of these people. What about Hamza bin Laden?'” a former official told NBC News.
A Pentagon official added, “That was the only name he knew.”
Hamza bin Laden was not believed to be involved in any attacks, but military forces under Trump carried out an air strike on him anyway, taking him out in 2018 (although his fate wasn’t confirmed till the following year).
Trump did plan successful assassinations of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Yemeni al Qaeda chief Qasim al-Rimi. But it would take the man who beat him in the 2020 election to re-prioritize — and ultimately take out — Al Qaeda’s leader.
On Monday, Biden delivered a speech while isolating from COVID in which he said “justice has been delivered.” He added 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.”