Balcony of the blue room
7:33 p.m. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans, on Saturday, under my leadership, the United States successfully concluded an airstrike in Kabul, Afghanistan, which killed the Emir of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
You know, al-Zawahiri was bin Laden’s leader. He was with him all the–all the time. He was his number two, his deputy during the September 11 attack. He was deeply involved in the planning of 9/11, one of the main perpetrators of the attacks that killed 2,977 people on American soil.
For decades, he was the mastermind of attacks on Americans, including the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, which killed 17 American sailors and injured dozens more.
He played a key role – a key role in the bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people and injuring over 4,500 others.
He traced a trail of murder and violence against American citizens, American servicemen, American diplomats and American interests. And ever since the United States brought justice to bin Laden 11 years ago, Zawahiri has been a leader of al-Qaeda — the leader.
From underground, he coordinated branches of al-Qaeda and around the world – including setting priorities, to providing operational advice that called for and inspired attacks on US targets.
He has made videos, including in recent weeks, calling on his followers to attack the United States and our allies.
Now justice has been served, and this terrorist leader is no more.
People around the world no longer need to fear the vicious and determined killer. The United States continues to demonstrate our resolve and ability to defend the American people against those who seek to harm us.
You know, we – we clearly reaffirm tonight 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 eliminate you.
After tirelessly searching for Zawahiri for years under Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump, our intelligence community located Zawahiri earlier this year. He had moved to downtown Kabul to reunite with members of his immediate family.
After carefully reviewing the clear and compelling evidence of its location, I authorized a precision strike that would remove it from the battlefield once and for all.
This mission was carefully planned and rigorously minimized the risk of injury to other civilians. And a week ago, after being advised that the conditions were optimal, I gave the final approval to go get him, and the mission was a success. No member of his family was injured and there were no civilian casualties.
I now share this news with the American people, having confirmed the complete success of the mission thanks to the painstaking work of our counterterrorism community and our key allies and partners.
My administration has also kept congressional leaders informed.
When I ended our military mission in Afghanistan nearly a year ago, I made the decision that after 20 years of war, the United States no longer needed thousands of boots on the ground
in Afghanistan to protect America from terrorists who seek to harm us.
And I promised the American people that we would continue to conduct effective counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and beyond.
That’s exactly what we did.
In February, our forces carried out a daring mission in Syria
who eliminated the emir of ISIS.
Last month we eliminated another key ISIS leader. Now we have eliminated the emir of Al-Qaeda. He will never again allow Afghanistan to become a haven for terrorists because he is gone, and we will make sure nothing else happens. You know, it can’t be a launching pad against the United States. We’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen.
This operation is a clear demonstration that we will do it, that we can do it and that we will always keep the solemn promise.
My administration will continue to vigilantly monitor and respond to threats from al-Qaeda, no matter where they originate.
As Commander-in-Chief, it is my solemn responsibility to make America safe in a dangerous world. The United States did not seek this war on terrorism. It came to us, and we responded with the same principles and determination that have shaped us from generation to generation: to protect the innocent, to defend freedom, and we keep the light of freedom burning – a beacon for the rest of the world. whole world.
Because it’s the great truth that defines our nation and our people: we don’t break. We never give in. We never back down.
Last year, on 9/11, I once again paid my respects to Ground Zero in New York, to that quiet ground in Shanksville, to the Pentagon – and to the Pentagon.
Standing in front of the Ground Zero Memorial, seeing the names of those who died forever etched in bronze, is a powerful reminder of the sacred promise we made as a nation: we will never forget.
The memorial also bears a quote from Virgil: “No day shall erase you from the memory of time”. “No day will erase you from the memory of time.”
So we continue to mourn every innocent life that was stolen on 9/11 and to honor their memory.
To the families who lost fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and colleagues on that scorching day in September, I hope this decisive action will bring another closing measure. No day will erase them from the memory of time.
Today and every day, I am so grateful to the superb patriots who serve the United States Intelligence Community and counterterrorism communities. They never forget. These dedicated women and men who have worked tirelessly every day to keep our country safe and prevent future tragedies – it is through their extraordinary perseverance and skill that this operation has been a success. They have made us all safer.
And to those around the world who continue to seek to harm the United States, hear me out now: We will always remain vigilant and we will act. And we will always do what is necessary to keep Americans safe and secure at home and around the world.
Today we remember the lost. We are committed to the safety of the living. And we pledge never to waver in defense of our nation and its people.
Thank you all. And may God protect our troops and all who serve in danger.
We will never give up – we will never give up.
7:40 p.m. EDT