Kabul, Afghanistan – The information of the killing of al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri slowly made its approach by means of the Afghan capital on Tuesday. For a lot of Afghans, it got here as a whole shock.
The announcement by america of a “precision” drone assault that killed the elusive 71-year-old al-Qaeda chief got here in Kabul within the early hours of Tuesday.
Because the day superior, extra particulars began to trickle in.
Nevertheless, in an indication of the rising fears over the liberty of speech beneath a Taliban authorities, many metropolis residents appeared hesitant to speak concerning the killing of al-Zawahiri, who had a reward of $25m on his head for the 9/11 assaults.
Mohammad Jamal operates a road cart not removed from the home in Kabul’s Shirpoor space the place Zawahiri and his household had been reportedly staying. He says he had little concept concerning the al-Qaeda chief or his alleged killing.
“How would I do know who he’s? I don’t even know what he appears like,” mentioned the service provider who hails from the jap Afghan province of Laghman.
Jamal, like different residents and streetside staff Al Jazeera spoke to, mentioned his major focus is the nation’s economic system, which has been struggling beneath the burden of Western sanctions and assist cutbacks because the Taliban returned to energy a 12 months in the past.
“When would I watch TV to know who he was? I couldn’t even let you know who the pinnacle of the [Islamic] Emirate is correct now,” Jamal mentioned, referring to the title the Taliban makes use of for its authorities.
Even those that do have a greater sense of who al-Zawahiri was are afraid to speak, mentioned Jamal.
“This isn’t the republic the place individuals can protest after each suicide bombing and assault. Nobody desires to speak about these items beneath these situations,” he mentioned.
Worldwide organisations such because the United Nations and the Committee to Defend Journalists, and rights teams Human Rights Watch and Amnesty Worldwide have all accused the Taliban authorities of stifling free speech since they assumed energy.
Journalists in Kabul advised Al Jazeera the roads resulting in the home the place al-Zawahiri was killed had been blocked and that they had been advised to show round when making an attempt to get nearer to the purported residence.
A visitors police officer in one in all Kabul’s industrial centres mentioned he, too, noticed journalists making an attempt to get details about the US strike, however to no avail.
The officer didn’t wish to give his title because of safety considerations, however mentioned that he noticed media crews making an attempt to talk to the passersby.
“They tried to movie individuals and ask them what they thought however nobody spoke to them. I don’t suppose anybody will discuss it now,” mentioned the officer.
On-line, although, Afghans exterior the nation had been extra prepared to talk freely concerning the second al-Qaeda chief the Taliban reportedly hosted in Afghanistan in 30 years.
Shafi Karimi, an Afghan journalist presently dwelling in France, was struck by the situation of al-Zawahiri’s alleged killing.
“His final months had been spent in an upscale Kabul neighborhood the place prime officers from the Taliban additionally dwell,” Karimi tweeted.
Shirpoor, the neighbourhood the place al-Zawahiri’s home was situated, has lengthy had a controversial popularity amongst Kabul residents.
Throughout the years of Western-backed authorities, it was often called the world the place strongmen, ministers, governors and legislators of the previous authorities lived.
Most of these officers fled when the Taliban stormed into Kabul final 12 months, with the group’s officers and members reportedly taking on residence in lots of the similar properties and compounds, together with the one al-Zawahiri was mentioned to be killed in.
Emran Feroz, an Afghan-Austrian journalist who has tracked drone strikes in Afghanistan and different nations for almost a decade, fears the drone that killed al-Zawahiri might not be a one-off.
“Over the past months, there have been a number of studies about US drones above Kabul. Appears that each one these accounts turned out to be true,” Feroz tweeted.