Footage shows Kabul home where al-Qaeda leader was killed by US strike

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

Zawahiri was on the balcony when the strike took place, US President Joe Biden said in a speech Monday night. CNN contacted 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 district 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 300 meters 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 According to the British Foreign Office, all diplomatic and consular staff are “temporarily withdrawn” from the country.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 seems to show the consequences of the strike.

A resident living near the area, who heard a loud explosion after 6 a.m. on Sunday, told CNN that Taliban fighters continued to spread through the area. The person asked not to be identified out of fear for their life.

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

The Sherpur area in Kabul used to be a former military base, but during the years of civil conflict and Taliban rule in the 1990s, it remained almost unused. In 2003, the Afghan Ministry of Defense abandoned it and the government divided it into more than 50 plots, allocating them to powerful people, including government ministers and other senior officials, as well as to warlords and drug lords. Their houses quickly acquired the nickname “poppy palace”.

After the fall of the Ashraf Ghani government in August 2021, the majority of Sherpur house owners fled the country and their houses were confiscated by the Taliban.

It is unclear 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 draped over the balcony area, where the missile strike appears to have occurred.

A BBC television news crew, who filmed the house, said the Taliban told him to leave the area after filming the house and the area for their report.

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

Journalists trying to access the location throughout Tuesday were blocked from main and secondary roads, a reporter told CNN.

Civilians on bicycles, motorbikes and cars were also barred from entering, the journalist said.

BBC footage showing Ayman al-Zawahiri's family home where the missile strike occurred.

The house is in an area called the Green Zone, where most former Afghan government officials lived. Last year, the home of acting Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Mohammadi in the area was attacked by a Taliban car bomb.

Zawahiri had taken refuge in downtown Kabul to reunite with his family, Biden said, and was killed in what a senior administration official described as “a precisely tailored airstrike” using two missiles Hellfire.

The strike, which took place at 9:48 p.m. ET Saturday and the early hours of Sunday morning in Kabul, was authorized by Biden following weeks of meetings with his cabinet and his principal 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 jihadist watchdog group SITE Intelligence Group said “certain segments of the jihadist community” hold the Taliban responsible for the death of the al-Qaeda leader, believing its officials have leaked his whereabouts to US intelligence.

CNN has contacted the Taliban for comment.

Before giving the order to kill the terrorist leader, Biden wanted intimately understand the neighborhood in which 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 as he debated his options.

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