Tuesday, 2 August 2022
Statements on Indulgence
US Air Strike in Afghanistan
As the President of the United States of America confirmed earlier today, the al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has been killed in a US air strike. The operation was carried out on Saturday in Kabul Afghanistan. No civilian casualties have been reported. Al-Zawahiri was indicted by the United States for the part he paid in the August 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, attacks which left 224 people dead and over 4½ thousand wounded. He has long been suspected of plotting the attack on USS Cole in 2000 in which 17 US sailors died and dozens more were injured. In 2001, conspiring with Osama bin-Laden, he coordinated the September 11 hijackings that levelled the World Trade Center and murdered nearly 3,000 innocent people, including Australians on American soil, in that day that will live in infamy. The world changed that day. So many lives have been lost, and so much blood has been spilled since, including all those Australians who served, sacrificed and gave their lives in Afghanistan.
For two decades this man fled the consequences of his crimes. Our thoughts today are with the loved ones of all of his victims. May they find some small solace in the knowledge that he cannot cause more grief through his acts of terror, and let terrorists see that Afghanistan will never ever be a safe haven for their hatred, their terrorism and their attacks on our humanity.
I join with the Prime Minister and his fine words. The death of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, a key planner of the 9/11 terror attacks, is yet another success in the enduring battle against terrorism. Persistence prevails. Evil may lurk in the shadows but it cannot hide in the darkness. On 9/11 al-Zawahiri was one of many responsible for murdering almost 3,000 innocent people, including 10 Australians. He has been responsible for masterminding many more attacks resulting in the death and the slaughter of many innocent men, women and children.
For over two decades, some 39,000 men and women of the Australian Defence Force served with other nations in Afghanistan, thwarting terrorism and preventing further attacks. Tragically, 41 Australians made the ultimate sacrifice. I pay tribute again today to those 39,000 men and women of the ADF who, through their actions in the Middle East, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, prevented terrorist attacks on our allies, against our Australian citizens both here and abroad. The pain of Australian families who lost loved ones on 9/11 or in service in Afghanistan will of course never dull. But al-Zawahiri's death may provide some solace in the knowledge that the planners and perpetrators of terrorism will always be relentlessly pursued and hunted. For them, neither place nor time will provide a sanctuary from the forces of justice.
Ayman al-Zawahiri's death also reinforces to free people that we must always be vigilant, must always prepare for and confront threats from a position of strength, not weakness, be it terrorism, radical ideology, foreign interference crime or authoritarianism. I thank the House.