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August 1, 2022 (Monday)
Tonight, President Joe Biden announced that a drone strike managed by the Central Intelligence Agency at 9:48 Eastern time on Saturday killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, 71, who took control of al-Qaeda after the death of leader Osama bin Laden. The precision strike hit Zawahiri as he stood on a balcony in a prosperous section of Kabul, Afghanistan. There were no civilian casualties.
Zawahiri believed that attacking the U.S. and allied countries was essential to undermining the pro-Western Arab regimes that were standing in the way of uniting Muslims around the world. In 1998, he wrote, “To kill Americans and their allies—civilian and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in every country in which it is possible to do it.” In that year, he was a senior advisor to bin Laden when al-Qaeda bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing more than 200 people and wounding more than 4500 others. He planned the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in 2000, which killed 17 U.S. sailors and wounded dozens more. He helped to plan the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
Under the Doha Agreement of February 29, 2020, negotiated by the Trump administration and the Taliban without the involvement of the then-Afghan government, the U.S. agreed to withdraw all its forces so long as the Taliban promised not to permit terrorist organizations to operate within their territory. And yet the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan a year ago provided Zawahiri with the ability to operate comfortably in that country.
When President Biden withdrew remaining troops from Afghanistan in August of last year, he said the U.S. would be better served by fighting terrorism with “over-the-horizon” attacks rather than with soldiers on the ground. The elimination of Zawahiri proved his point. “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 take you out,” Biden said.
Meanwhile, in Washington, Judge Dabney Fredrich sentenced Capitol rioter Guy Reffitt to more than 7 years in prison, 3 years of probation, $2000 in fines, and mental health treatment. In March, a Washington, D.C., jury found Reffitt guilty of five charges in connection with the events of January 6, including obstructing an official proceeding and threatening his children to keep them from reporting him to law enforcement officials. Reffitt was a recruiter for a militia gang. He brought a gun to the riot, boasted of leading the charge into the Capitol, and threatened House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then–Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. He had been eager to take his case to trial, but after being found guilty, he said he was a “f*ck*ng idiot” who was parroting “founding fathers and stupid sh*t like that” around the time of the riot.
Prosecutors wanted to attach penalties for terrorism to the sentencing, but Fredrich declined, sayng that would creae an “unwarranted disparity” between his sentence and those of other rioters.
The cargo ship Razoni left Odesa today on its way to Lebanon with 26,000 tons of corn from Ukraine. On July 22 the United Nations and Turkey signed agreements with Russia and Ukraine to open Ukraine’s ports on the Black Sea to allow exports of grain to relieve a growing food shortage. Ukraine and Russia export billions of dollars’ worth of agricultural products, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine cut off exports and sent food prices soaring.
Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, wrote on Facebook that Ukraine’s ports would be fully operational in a few weeks, and cheered the help for the global food shortage. Meanwhile, Russia bought into the deal because it allows Russia to export grain and fertilizer, which western sanctions have frozen.
Still, Russia has repeatedly bombed the region around Odesa since the deal was signed.