An important world event happened 10 days ago, but it caused barely a ripple here on the SouthCoast. The U.S. military killed a major figure in our war against terror, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri.

Officials say al-Zawahri was a co-planner of the 9-11 attacks on the United States. He was killed by missiles fired from a drone thousands of miles away, while sitting on a balcony in a so-called safe house in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Brian Glyn Williams knows all about that technology and the intelligence needed to carry out that strike. At one time in his life, Williams worked for the CIA, lived in Afghanistan, and later authored a book on the CIA's drone war against al-Qaida.

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Williams is now a Professor of Islamic History at UMass Dartmouth, and connected with Townsquare Sunday this week to discuss al-Zawahri's death. He called the operation a "methodical and patient hunt."

Williams said the killing of al-Zawahri sends a message to the terrorist world.

"It tells the world, we can get you anywhere," he said.

There has been much controversy about drone warfare in the past, but after visiting that region when President Obama was in office, Williams concluded that civilian casualties caused by drone strikes have been massively exaggerated by the Pakistani government.

Professor Williams talked to us at length about the precision of those drone missiles, and the intelligence-gathering network that apparently still exists that led to al-Zawahri's death.

Williams said he's still very much concerned about the fate of the people of Afghanistan. Contacts in that country tell him that despite a pledge from the Taliban that women would be allowed to go to school, education for girls stops after the sixth grade.

People are still being beaten he says, and in some cases, killed.

"It's the same Taliban we had in 2001," he said.

The complete interview with Williams can be heard here:

Townsquare Sunday is a weekly public affairs program highlighting individuals and organizations seeking to make Greater New Bedford a better place to live and work.

If you would like your organization featured on Townsquare Sunday, please e-mail the host at

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