The United States announced August 1 that it had killed the ideological head of al Qaeda, Ayman al Zawahiri, in a drone strike, over the previous weekend. Reportedly battling a long-time illness, al Zawahiri’s actual level of control over al Qaeda (and its regional affiliates) is debatable. His role in the September 11 attacks against the United States in 2001 and in inspiring campaigns of militancy that killed thousands is decidedly less so.

I do take note of al Zawahiri’s presence in a home inside Kabul. The US–primarily its intelligence agencies–still maintain considerable capabilities in a country with no formal military presence. And they are more than happy to remind any number of bad actors of the fact.

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