Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed at the home of an FBI-wanted Taliban lackey who was once given a platform by the New York Times.
The jihadist, one of the planners of the Sept. 11 attacks, was taken out by a CIA-issued drone strike Sunday morning at a Kabul home belonging to senior Taliban official Sirajuddin Haqqani, according to initial reporting by Gray Lady herself.
The publication infamously published an op-ed penned by Haqqani — the leader of the insurgent Haqqani Network in Afghanistan linked to brutal and deadly attacks — to ask for a peace agreement between US and Afghan leaders in 2020.
The paper was slammed by critics and even its own reporters for giving the global terrorist a microphone to thousands of readers to spew what many saw as thinly-veiled propaganda. The Times defended its decision to publish the piece at the time.
Now the Times is being accused of “stealth-editing” their reporting on the killing of al-Zawahri to remove details of the initial report specifically naming Haqqani.
“According to one American analyst, the house that was struck was owned by a top aide to Sirajuddin Haqqani, a senior official in the Taliban government whom American officials say is close to senior Qaeda figures,” the Times wrote in his initial reporting.
However, that paper axed that paragraph without an editor’s note and later replaced it with language that failed to name Haqqani specifically, as first pointed out by Multiple Editor Jeryl Bier
“After the strike, members of the Haqqani network, a terrorist group that is part of the Taliban government, tried to conceal that Mr. Zawahri had been at the house and restrict access to the site, according to a senior administration official. But the official said the United States had multiple intelligence threads confirming that Mr. Zawahri was killed in the strike,” the Times wrote in the updated story.
Critics of the newspaper suggested the publication removed the initial paragraph linking Haqqani’s role in protecting al-Zawahri due to the backlash it received for publishing the Taliban leader’s op-ed.
However, a Times spokesperson denied such a narrative in a statement to Fox News.
“We regularly edit web stories—especially breaking news stories—to refine the story, add new information, additional context or analysis,” the spokesperson told Fox.
In this case, we updated a complex piece of breaking international news with additional detail from open press briefings. There is absolutely no connection between the editing of this news item and any previous publication by Times Opinion.”
Haqqani, deputy leader of the Taliban, is on the FBI’s most wanted list for his alleged involvement in a January 2008 attack on a Kabul hotel that killed six people, including an American citizen. He is also believed to have coordinated and participated in cross-border attacks against the United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan, according to the agency.
The FBI is offering up to a whopping $10 million for information leading directly to his arrest.