We have waited 7,629 days since 9/11, almost 21 years, to announce the death of Ayman al-Zawahri, an eye surgeon who was the No. 2 man and power behind the throne of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida. Truly a Dr. Evil, this now satisfyingly dead Egyptian violated his medical oath as a healer and brought death with him everywhere. Being on the hot end of a U.S. drone in Afghanistan was a fine way to send this 71-year-old to his grave.
As Lawrence Wright explained in his 2006 book, "The Looming Tower," al-Zawahri was al-Qaida before al-Qaida and before (and after) Bin Laden was on the scene. He was a radical Islamist who participated in the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat well before OBL came to his demented beliefs that their interpretation of Islam (and only their interpretation) requires the faithful to be at war with the rest of humanity, including other Muslims.
The organization they birthed together orchestrated spectacular attacks using suicide bombers, from our embassies in Africa in 1998 to the Navy ship Cole in 2000, to 9/11, murdering 3,000 souls on one day.
Many times since either the Pentagon or the CIA have come close to catching al-Zawahri, but each time it wasn't to be. After Navy SEALs dispatched Bin Laden in 2011, al-Zawahri became the sole leader of al-Qaida. Now the last head of the snake has been severed.
Others will surely try to seize the mantle. The group will live on and could well become more dangerous. And it's not lost on us that al-Qaida itself, having sparked many offshoots, isn't the singular menace it once was.
Still, the demise of this monster in the tortured land of Afghanistan is welcome, coming a full year after American troops completed their chaotic and shameful withdrawal, ceding to the Taliban. Though the GI boots exited, the eagle's eye stayed focused and found its target.
Good riddance. May his life inspire no one and his death make those who would follow in his footsteps think again.