It took more than 20 years for the United States to take out one of the principal planners of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack.
But persistence paid off with a drone strike this past week that killed al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri.
It might have been preferable if al-Zawahri had been captured alive, but a couple of decades of hunting for him indicated that wasn’t likely to happen. It was also gratifying that the mission could be carried out without risking the lives of any American soldiers.
For those who vividly remember that horrific morning when hijacked airliners flew into New York’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon in Washington and crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, al-Zawahri’s death may not resonate as much as did the killing of Osama bin Laden 11 years ago. Although al-Zawahri stayed more behind the scenes, he was the tactical mind behind the 9/11 attack. He was just as culpable as bin Laden in slaughtering 3,000 innocents and injuring 6,000 others.
The only major regret about his deserved end is that it took this long.