Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri killed in drone strike: 9/11 families react

Al Zawahiri was killed in a drone strike over the weekend

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9/11 groups and families are cheering the death of al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri in Afghanistan over the weekend but say more is needed to be done to hold the plotters accountable.  

A senior administration official confirmed Zawahri’s death to Fox News, saying the U.S. conducted a counterterrorism operation against "a significant al Qaeda target in Afghanistan." 

FILE - Osama bin Laden, left, and Ayman Al Zawahiri.

FILE - Osama bin Laden, left, and Ayman Al Zawahiri. (Hamid Mir/Editor/Ausaf Newspaper for Daily Dawn/Handout via Reuters)

9/11 Justice, a grassroots organization comprising 9/11 survivors, first responders and family members who lost loved ones that day, said it was grateful to President Biden for this latest victory in the fight against terrorism.

"This is a significant step forward and is particularly meaningful to the 9/11 community as we continue our years-long battle for justice and accountability," 9/11 Justice said in a statement provided to Fox News Digital. 

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The group additionally commended Biden for declassifying documents on the extent of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"We urge President Biden to continue to stand with the 9/11 community and all those who seek justice by holding Saudi Arabia accountable for the 9/11 attacks," 9/11 Justice said.

This image taken from a video issued by As-Sahab, al Qaeda's media branch, on April 5, 2022, shows al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri speaking.

This image taken from a video issued by As-Sahab, al Qaeda's media branch, on April 5, 2022, shows al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri speaking. (As-Sahab via AP)

Terry Strada, national chair of 9/11 Families United, said she was grateful for the commitment of intelligence agencies and the military’s dedication and sacrifices made in removing such threats. 

She qualified, however, that Biden must hold responsible the Saudi paymasters who bankrolled the "murder of thousands on Sept. 11, 2001."  

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"The financiers are not being targeted by drones, they are being met with fist pumps and hosted at golf clubs," she said. "If we’re going to be serious about accountability, we must hold everyone accountable."

Brad Blakeman, a senior adviser to former President George W. Bush whose nephew, a first responder, was killed on 9/11, said he applauded the Biden administration for taking out Zawahiri. 

"It was a long day in coming. It should have been done a long time ago if we had had the opportunity," Blakeman said. 

"What really dismays me is the fact that why is the United States always the one to take action against the terrorists when they're harbored in sovereign countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan in the case of (Osama) bin Laden? Why are these countries giving safe haven to … these murderers and terrorists," he said. "So, while I thank the U.S. for taking such bold action, I'm mad as hell that these countries are harboring these horrible people." 

FILE - A fiery blast rocks the south tower of the World Trade Center as the hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston crashes into the building on Sept. 11, 2001, in New York City.

FILE - A fiery blast rocks the south tower of the World Trade Center as the hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston crashes into the building on Sept. 11, 2001, in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Alice M. Greenwald, president and CEO of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, said Zawahiri’s death "demonstrates how the 9/11 story continues to evolve, even 21 years later, and reinforces the need for us to keep educating younger generations about the continued impact of 9/11 on the world we live in today." 

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Zawahiri more than anyone shaped al Qaeda, first as bin Laden’s deputy since 1998, then as his successor. Together, he and bin Laden turned the jihadi movement’s guns to target the United States, carrying out the deadliest attack ever on American soil — the Sept. 11, 2001, suicide hijackings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report