Images show Kabul house where al Qaeda chief was killed by US strike

The identification was made by geolocating and verifying the authenticity of three photos that have circulated on social networks since Sunday, in addition to using high-resolution satellite images from the archive.

Zawahiri was on the balcony when the attack took place, US President Joe Biden said in a speech Monday night. CNN has reached out to the National Security Council for comment on the identification of the house, but did not immediately receive a response.

The house, located in the Sherpur neighborhood of the Afghan capital, is surrounded by several houses and buildings to the north, south and west. Directly east of the house is Omaid High School.

Just under 1,000 feet to the southeast of the house is the UK embassy in Kabul. According to the British Foreign Office, all diplomatic and consular staff are “temporarily withdrawn” from the country.

This photograph appears to show the aftermath of the strike.

A resident living near the area, who heard a loud explosion after 6 a.m. Sunday, told CNN that Taliban fighters continue to scatter in the area. The person asked not to be identified out of fear for his life.

The strike “rocked” his own home, the resident said.

The Sherpur area of ‚Äč‚ÄčKabul was a former military base, but during the years of civil conflict and Taliban rule in the 1990s it became almost unused. In 2003, the Afghan Defense Ministry abandoned it and the government divided it into more than 50 parcels, handing them over to powerful people, including government ministers and other high-ranking officials, as well as warlords and drug traffickers. Their houses soon earned the nickname “poppy palaces”.

After the fall of the Ashraf Ghani government in August 2021, most of the Sherpur homeowners fled the country and their homes were confiscated by the Taliban.

It is not clear who owns the house where Zawahiri was killed or if it is one of those confiscated houses.

On Tuesday, a green tarp could be seen over the balcony area, where the missile attack appears to have taken place.

A BBC television news crew, who had been filming at the house, said the Taliban told it to leave the area after they had taken video of the house and area for their report.

The Taliban have continued to close the streets leading to the site, a nearby resident told CNN.

Journalists who tried to access the site throughout Tuesday were blocked from main and secondary roads, a reporter told CNN.

Civilians on bicycles, motorcycles and cars were also blocked from entering, the journalist said.

BBC footage showing Ayman al-Zawahiri's family home where the missile attack took place.

The house is in an area called the Green Zone, where most officials from the previous Afghan government used to live. Last year, the home of Afghanistan’s Acting Defense Minister Bismillah Mohammadi in the area was attacked by a Taliban car bomb.

Zawahiri was sheltering in central Kabul to reunite with his family, Biden said, and was killed in what a senior administration official described as “a pinpoint airstrike” using two Hellfire missiles.

The strike, which took place at 9:48 p.m. ET on Saturday and into the early hours of Sunday in Kabul, was authorized by Biden after weeks of meetings with his cabinet and key advisers.
He eliminated the 71-year-old al Qaeda leader who at one point acted as Osama bin Laden’s personal physicianand who rose to the top of the terrorist organization after US forces killed bin Laden in 2011.

The jihadi-monitoring intelligence group SITE said “some segments of the jihadi community” hold the Taliban responsible for the al-Qaeda leader’s death, believing their officials disclosed his location to US intelligence.

CNN has reached out to the Taliban for comment.

Before giving the order to kill the terrorist leader, Biden wanted intimately understand the neighborhood where he was hiding. Among the preparations was a small-scale model of Zawahiri’s safe house, built by intelligence officials and placed inside the White House Situation Room for Biden to examine while he debated his options.

CNN’s Mostafa Salem and Rob Picheta contributed to this article.

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