President Joe Biden celebrated the drone strike that killed Ayman al-Zawahiri over the weekend, but the mission could result in an increased terrorist threat for Americans around the world.
According to Biden, the al-Qaida leader responsible for planning aspects of the 9/11 attacks and other terrorist acts over the past 25 years, was killed at a safe house in Afghanistan. The U.S. State Department followed up on Tuesday with a warning aimed at American citizens at home and abroad.
As the agency explained, al-Qaida operatives and affiliates “may seek to attack U.S. facilities, personnel, or citizens” in retaliation for al-Zawahiri’s death.
“As terrorist attacks often occur without warning, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and practice good situational awareness when traveling abroad,” the advisory continued.
Among the specific types of attacks that might be staged around the world are hijackings, suicide bombings, kidnappings, and assassinations, the State Department advised.
In addition to remaining vigilant, the agency instructed Americans currently living in other countries to keep an eye on news updates and reach out to local diplomats for additional information.
Despite the potential of increased violence, the president announced that “justice has been served” when confirming the death of al-Zawahiri.
“No matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people the United States will find you and take you out,” Biden said.
Some experts and pundits, however, questioned whether the drone strike represented a net positive for America and its interests around the world.
Former special forces operator Tim Kennedy was among the prominent critics who indicated that al-Zawahiri’s presence in Afghanistan was a direct result of the Biden administration’s botched military pullout from the country last year.
“There was a reason that Ayman al-Zawahiri was in Kabul,” he said. “Serving as the #2 to Bin Laden in al Qaeda he took advantage of our failed evacuation of Afghanistan and the power vacuum. It is a safe haven for terrorists all around the world. This is a byproduct of what we created.”