Trump had a chance to kill al-Qaeda leader but didn’t because he didn’t recognize the name, report says

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Then-President Donald Trump and then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the White House.Alex Wong/Getty Images

  • Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has been killed by a US drone strike, Biden announced Monday.

  • Then-President Trump had the option to assassinate al-Zawahiri, but chose not to. NBC reported in 2020.

  • Trump instead wanted to kill Osama bin Laden’s son because it was the only name he knew, NBC said.

Former President Donald Trump Had the Chance to Kill the leader of al Qaeda but didn’t because he didn’t recognize the terrorist leader’s name, NBC News reported in 2020.

Ayman al-Zawahiric was killed in a US drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday, President Joe Biden announced Monday.

Are dead, which has been praised by many world leadersis the biggest blow to al-Qaeda since its founder, Osama bin Laden, was assassinated by US Navy SEALs in 2011.

But plans for al-Zawahiri’s execution could have been carried out much earlier, according to an NBC News report published in February 2020.

Intelligence officials have briefed Trump on numerous occasions about leading terrorists the CIA sought to track down and kill, most notably al-Zawahiri, NBC News reported.

But two people familiar with the briefings told NBC News that Trump chose not to prosecute al-Zawahiri because he didn’t recognize his name, and instead suggested targeting bin Laden’s son, Hamza bin Laden. .

“He would say, ‘I’ve never heard of these people. What about Hamza bin Laden?'” an unnamed former official told NBC News.

A Pentagon official also told the news channel, “That was the only name he knew.”

The Department of Defense and a Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

Although bin Laden’s son was widely seen as an emerging figure in the terrorist group, it was believed he was not planning any attacks at the time, NBC News reported.

‘The President’s Preference for a ‘Celebrity’ Targeted Assassination’

Trump confirmed in 2019 that the younger bin Laden had previously been killed in a US counter-terrorism operation during his presidency.

“Despite intelligence assessments showing the greater dangers of Zawahiri… wrote in Just Security in 2020.

He added that Trump’s “obsession” with bin Laden’s son is “an example of the president’s preference for a targeted assassination of a ‘celebrity’ versus prioritizing options that could be better for American security.” .”

In his address announcing al-Zawahiri’s death, Biden said that after “relentlessly searching for Zawahiri for years under Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump, our intelligence community located Zawahiri earlier this year.”

“This mission was carefully planned, minimizing the risk of harm to other civilians, and a week ago, after being informed that conditions were optimal, I gave final approval to go get it, and the mission was a good luck.”

Al-Zawahiri helped Osama bin Laden plan the September 11, 2001 attacks, which nearly 3,000 people killed.

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