The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the American foreign intelligence service, recently carried out a drone strike against Al-Zawahiri, the Al Qaeda chief and one of the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks of 2001. The regime of Taliban 2.0 became a testament to the American agencies’ abilities to not only track but also eliminate any targets in Afghanistan.

The strike garnered much fanfare also due to the rumoured Hellfire R9X missile that is meant to address the “left seat, right seat” problem. However, gathering and verifying actionable intel is critical in an intelligence operation. How exactly did the CIA track Al-Zawahiri?

Dead Man Walking: Who was Al-Zawahiri?

As per the US, Ayman Al-Zawahiri was Osama bin Laden’s second in command during the 9/11 attacks.
And he took over as the head of Al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden’s death. Then, the US put a $25 million
bounty on his head. Zawahiri was a 71 years old Egyptian-born physician. He was added to the list of
United Nations sanctions in 1999.

The location of his safe house is reportedly precisely where the American Embassy used to be.

Selling Sovereignty: Pakistan is the Eye of the Perfect Storm
Since 1947, Pakistan has been living on the aid given by the US. Between 1951 and 2017, over $60 billion
was pumped into Pakistan by the US. The de facto establishment of Pakistan, and its military services,
has had many high-ranking officials retire to lavish properties in the US or Europe. Even the kids of such
officials live and study in such first-world countries. The highest level of this open loot on the Pakistani
public was when the National Security Advisor, Moeed Yusuf, was, in fact, a US citizen.

Even though the US denied the ousted Pakistani PM Imran Khan’s allegations of American involvement
in his removal, Pakistani Army General Bajwa was quick to damage control by issuing marinated lines to
the press. The Pakistani elite have essentially rendered Pakistan a vassal for the US.

Just recently, in the face of grave economic collapse in Pakistan, General Bajwa urged the US to fast-
track an IMF loan for the country.

The Weakest Link: Biden’s Troubles at Home from a Trip Aboard

In the larger context of geopolitics, it is clear that the Americans wish to continue their aggressive front
against Russia. In the ensuing energy crisis, the US has been able to secure an alternative to its domestic
supply through Saudi Arabia. But this energy security compromises any wishes of pinning Saudi Prince
Mohammed bin Salman for the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The recent trip to Saudi Arabia has been akin to stepping around the broken glass for Joe Biden. Not
only was he unable to bring up the issue, but his projected bonhomie also enraged the human rights
community back home in the US.

Joe Biden’s failures now form a long list, including the inability to secure the release of political prisoners
like the cousin of Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, a sympathiser of the US.
Biden also could not cease the offensive support to aid the Saudi attack in Yemen.

A series of losses for Biden drastically impacted his approval ratings amongst his voter base. Like
President, like Vice President. Just as Obama’s tenure oversaw Osama’s elimination, Biden rushed to
assassinate the second-in-command.

Hail Mary: CIA Doing Biden’s Bidding
Afghanistan is a landlocked country. For the US to fly into Afghanistan means through the airspace of
another country that borders it. In the west, Iran obviously could not be a way in given the US-Iran
relations. If they did try nonetheless, Iran has Surface to Air Missiles that would have taken down the US
drone. To the north of Afghanistan are the Central Asian countries whose allegiance still lies with Russia.
So, any activity in that region would tip off Russia and China. Both of these will also be quick to shoot
down the drone.

By elimination, only one country bordering Afghanistan could have provided access to the US: Pakistan,
its vassal state. The US now has military bases in Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman,
Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait. However, with a flight range of 1500 km limit for any drone, it would be
impossible to complete the journey with just airspace clearances. It had to be launched from Pakistani

soil to achieve the objective. The Taliban’s lack of an air defence system is known. So, most likely, they
used a Pakistani air base closest to Kabul.

While most likely the CIA had been able to narrow down the location of Al-Zawahiri to somewhere
between the Pakistani and Afghani border, Pakistan’s dire economic need allowed the CIA to arm-twist
ISI and Pakistani Army into not only sharing precise information but also lend its military bases to launch
the drones.

After the strike, the IMF declared that Pakistan would receive the aid it wanted. Though the IMF will still
enforce its strict measures, the aid to be released by the end of August would only be the first
installment, with more on the way.

The first take away from this episode is that the US has worked hard to create modern, situational
colonies globally, such as Pakistan in the South Asia region. It has also been engaging Ukraine and its
neighbours similarly to counter Russia.

The second takeaway is that contrary to the mainstream narrative, the various terror organizations like
the Taliban, ISIS and Al Qaeda are cooperative and collaborative. Otherwise, it would have been
impossible for an Al Qaeda chief to reside in Kabul without the knowledge of the Taliban. And in cahoots
with all the harbingers of evil is the institutional evil, Pakistan, who effectively sold their sovereignty and
the information in exchange for supporting this strike.+

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