President Joe Biden addressed the nation on Tuesday to announce that Ayman al-Zawahiri, one of the masterminds of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center buildings in New York City and the Pentagon, was killed by two Hellfire missiles fired by a CIA Predator drone. Now, a former Army Ranger, turned state Senator, turned Alabama syndicated radio host, Phil Williams, is weighing in.
Williams is a retired U.S. Army officer who, following the 9/11 attack, was deployed to Afghanistan, where he led special operations forces in the fight to remove the Taliban and deny al-Qaida the nation as a base to plan their attacks. Williams expressed concerns to 1819 News about how al-Zawahiri was living in a mansion in an exclusive neighborhood where many of the Taliban government leaders also own homes.
“I do have very genuine concerns about that. I included that as part of my monologue on today's show,” Williams told 1819 News after the President’s comments. “We spent 20 years there allegedly working to deny al Qaida and other terrorist organizations a safe haven. Now, with the power vacuum left by Biden's reckless withdrawal, we see the head of al Qaida living openly in a nice house with his family in the capital city of Afghanistan currently ruled by the Taliban once again. It's a mess.”
Congressman Mike Rogers (R-AL03), applauded the outcome but also expressed grave concerns about how the most wanted terrorist in the world was living comfortably in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the capital city of Afghanistan with his wife, daughter, and grandchildren (none of al-Zawahiri’s family were harmed in the attack). Rogers blamed the rushed withdrawal of coalition forces from Afghanistan last summer for the al-Qaida leader's comfortable return to prominence in the nation from which the 911 attacks were planned 21 years ago.
“President Biden conducted a rushed and ultimately catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan against the advice of his top military advisors,” Rogers said in a statement to 1819 News. “The fact that Ayman al-Zawahiri, one of the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks, was living in Kabul is proof that President Biden lied to the American people last year when he falsely claimed that al-Qaida was ‘gone’ in Afghanistan."
Rogers said since the withdrawal last year, he has been raising concerns about the possibility that terrorists could once again use Afghanistan as a safe haven. He said al-Zawahiri's presence in Kabul shows al-Qaida is openly back in Afghanistan.
“Make no mistake, al-Zawahiri’s death does not mean al-Qaida’s threat is diminished," said Rogers. "It just means that al-Qaida terrorists are back in Afghanistan just as they were in 2001 and the Biden administration still lacks a counterterrorism plan to stop them.”
For Williams, the return brings back harsh memories.
“Ayman al-Zawahiri is dead — good riddance I say,” Williams said on his radio show Tuesday. “I won’t grieve for a second. al-Zawahiri has been long known as the mastermind behind the attack on 9/11. He is the author of the plan that killed thousands of Americans and thousands and thousands more died in the War on Terror. We should never forget that.
“Ninety days after that I had orders to go to Afghanistan. Soon after I was in the surreal position of riding horses with other special forces operators for over a year in a country I knew little about.”
Williams said the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were a watershed event.
“9/11 changed the world,” Williams said. “One man took credit for planning the event that set the world on its heels and sent troops to war, and that man was Ayman al-Zawahiri.
“We are told that he was dead. I hope that’s true. I just wish it hadn’t taken 20 years.”
Williams has some questions about this revelation of al-Zawahiri's death.
“Why was the leader of al-Qaida hiding, and yet not hiding openly in the same country where we just fought for 20 years to deny terrorists a safe haven?” Williams asked. “I mean, he was literally living with his family in Kabul, Afghanistan. I have been to Kabul. It is a big city, but come on. My take is that we recklessly pulled out without an orderly withdrawal. Left Afghanistan reeling and pulled the Taliban back into power and they called al-Zawahiri and they said come on home.”
“He was exactly where you [President Biden] told us he would not be."
** Editorial note: Phil Williams serves on the Board of the 1819 News.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.
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