Al-Qaeda man’s killing to boost the war on terror

The killing by American forces of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is a mighty strike against international terrorism. The Egyptian surgeon has been one of the most wanted men, after being identified as one of the masterminds of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States that killed nearly 3,000 people.

The news of his death in a US intelligence operation in Afghanistan is of particular interest to Kenya, as Zawahiri and his boss, Osama bin Laden, were the brains behind the devastating August 7, 1998 bomb blast at the American embassy in Nairobi, in which more than 200 people died and 4,500 were seriously wounded. The attack was carried out simultaneously with another in Dar es Salaam which, fortunately, had fewer casualties. After Osama was eliminated some years ago in a similar American attack, this time in Pakistan, Zawahiri succeeded him and had a hand in other attacks elsewhere in the world.

Twenty-four years later, the pain inflicted on Kenyans, who had done nothing wrong, is still bitterly felt. Families lost their loved ones, whose only crime in the eyes of the terrorists, was being employed at the American embassy.

Some passers-by were also killed when a massive bomb was driven into the embassy compound and detonated. As some of the bereaved are yet to come to terms with the loss of their bread winners, some survivors continue to struggle with disabilities.

Though it would have been better to hunt him down, capture him and put him on trial, his killing should send a clear message to terrorists that you can run, but you cannot hide.

Al-Zawahiri has been on the run since the US placed a $25 million (Sh2.9 billion) bounty on his head, but it’s all over now. The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan might have given him some false hope of security in a safe house in Kabul.

Terrorism is one of the biggest threats to global peace, security and stability. However, it cannot be associated with any particular race, nationality or religion. Its defeat will only be possible through international co-operation, and governments and organisations sharing intelligence and other vital information and blocking the flow of funds to terrorist groups.

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