The Taliban on Thursday announced it was investigating the US claim that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a CIA drone strike in Kabul and said it was not aware of his presence in the Afghan capital.
Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the Taliban-led government, known formally as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, has “no information about Ayman al-Zawahiri’s arrival and stay in Kabul.”
“The leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has instructed the investigative and intelligence agencies to conduct a comprehensive and serious investigation into the various aspects of the incident,” Mujahid said.
The US has said the presence of Zawahiri in Kabul violated the Doha agreement, which paved the way for the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Under the agreement, the Taliban pledged not to allow al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups to gain a foothold and use Afghanistan as a platform to launch attacks on other countries.
“There is no threat to any country, including America, from the soil of Afghanistan, the Islamic Emirate wants to implement the Doha pact and the violation of the pact must end,” Mujahid said. The Taliban have said the US violated the agreement by launching the drone strike, which Mujahid condemned.
President Biden announced the operation that he said took out Zawahiri on Monday. He said US intelligence located the al-Qaeda leader earlier in the year, and that Zawahiri moved to downtown Kabul to live with his family.
The White House said on Tuesday that it has no DNA confirmation that it was Zawahiri who was killed in the strike. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby insisted that the US had “visual” and other types of confirmation that Zawahiri was killed.