‘I don’t forget’: Veterans react to al-Qaeda leader’s death

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 6:01 PM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - President Joe Biden announced Monday that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Al-Zawahri and the better-known Osama bin Laden plotted the 9/11 attacks that brought many ordinary Americans their first knowledge of al-Qaeda.

Veterans in Jacksonville reflected on the toll the war in Iraq has had on them and their loved ones.

“The news of Ayman Zawahiri Amir assuming room temperature, now deceased, is good news... certainly welcome because of course I don’t forget,” retired Marine Russ Jamison says.

Jamison notes that he was one of many in the Pentagon on the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“I was in that same corridor. I was on that same side,” Jamison says. “I wasn’t immediately subjected to the impact, but certainly the fire and the 11,000 gallons of jet fuel.”

Retired Marines Tim Driscoll and Wendy Silvera were also able to reflect on having boots on the ground during the early 2000′s in their service in the Marine Corps; and they explained the mental and physical toll taken during the war in Iraq.

“It was a lot,” Silvera says. “Right before I turned 40 I found out I had to have my hip replaced. Being a mother, it was extremely hard to go over there because am I being a good mother? But am I being a good Marine too...”

“There is always the general belief when I was there that if we killed the leader, then it was over,” Driscoll adds.

All three veterans have firsthand experiences with al-Qaeda, and they say they are skeptical about what the terrorist group may try next.

“I’m tempering that feeling of satisfaction with the realization that Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is now and still a safe haven for al-Qaeda,” Jamison says.

“20 years and multiple leaders killed have shown us we’re cutting off one head of 100 head snake,” Driscoll says.

Jamison described the 9/11 attack as a cowardly act by the terrorist group.

And Al-Zawahri’s death comes just under a year after the U.S. left the soil of the 20-year war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The strike was carried out by the CIA, according to five people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Neither President Biden nor the White House spoke on the CIA’s involvement in the strike.

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