THE world’s most wanted terrorist Ayman Al-Zawihiri was sold out by his former allies after holing up in a safehouse in Kabul’s warlord quarter.
The Al Qaeda leader was blitzed by a volley of Hellfire rockets fired from a US drone just yards from the old British embassy.
The Egyptian born killer, who served Osama bin Laden’s doctor, had been under surveillance for weeks after 25 years on the run.
He was killed at 6.18am on Sunday after stepping onto his balcony alone.
MI6 boss Richard Moore paid tribute to the secret agents who revealed his location in the bling Sherpur neighbourhood.
The spymaster known as 'C' retweeted a message saying: "We will never know the names of all who made this day possible."
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And he hailed the strike as a the “culmination of a long, shared effort since 9/11 to eliminate the threat posed by Zawahiri – a man responsible, with his toxic creed, for the death of so many these past three decades”.
Zawihiri, 71, was a guest of the Taliban’s powerful Haqqani faction who are locked in a deadly power struggle with rivals from Kandahar.
Sources said Zawihiri had travelled to Kabul to reunite with his family and was living in a high-walled compound close to the abandoned British and German embassies.
Joe Biden confirmed on Monday that the Al Qaeda chief had been killed by two hellfire missiles in a strike in Kabul, coordinated by the CIA.
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The US President said Zawahiri "was deeply involved in the planning of 9/11," describing him as "the mastermind behind the attacks against Americans, including the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 to kill 17 American sailors and wound dozens more".
Taliban sources claimed his death had fuelled a schism within the government which has banned girls education.
The Taliban condemned the strike as a violation of “international principles”.
Zawahiri took over from Osbama bin Laden in June 2011, a month after the terror leader was shot and killed by US forces at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
He founded the terror group behind the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Known as 'The Doctor' or 'Doctor Death', Zawahiri was believed to have masterminded the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and was on the FBI's most wanted list.
He had a $25m (£20m) bounty on his head.
It comes just under a year after Al-Zawahiri's last public appearance in a sick video on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, following reports he had died in 2020.
In the propaganda video, the jihadist praised the US exit from Afghanistan, although made no mention of the country's takeover by the Taliban.
Following his death, his son-in-law is tipped to take over the terrorist group.
Abdal-Rahman al-Maghrebi – who has been the organisation's "general manager" in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2012 – is seen as the likeliest successor.
The Moroccan has served in a number of senior roles within Al Qaeda and was described by the US State Department as the "longtime director" of Al Qaeda's media wing Al Sahab.
He left Morocco in 1996 to study software programming in Cologne, Germany, before leaving to train at the al-Faruq camp in Afghanistan – where he was selected to manage Al Sahab.
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Another possibility is Al-Zawahiri's second-in-command Saif al Adel, 62.
He is a longtime Al Qaeda leader and veteran who is also believed to have planned the 1998 embassy bombings.
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