In the years since 9/11, the U.S. military has come face-to-face with some of most ruthless terrorists on the face of the planet. Over the years, oversight of the Global War on Terror has changed hands several times, with each presidential administration passing America’s Forever War off to the next. With a new commander-in-chief in the White House, we have to ask: What happened to the major militant figures from the golden years of the War on Terror? Task & Purpose checks in on 23 of the world’s terrorist leaders to see how they’re doing after running afoul of American troops.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article was first published on April 1, 2017.
Supposedly the military advisor for the terrorist group al Qaeda, and Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man, Atef was killed in Afghanistan by a drone in 2001.
Ali Qaed Sinan al-Harthi
Also known as Abu Ali, the USS Cole bombing suspect was killed by a CIA drone in Yemen in 2002.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
The one-time leader of al Qaeda in Iraq who orchestrated the beheading of American hostages was killed by an airstrike in 2006.
The chief of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan was killed by a CIA drone strike in 2009.
Following the death of the elder Mehsud in 2009, Hakimullah became leader of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and was killed by a CIA drone strike in 2013.
Mushin Musa Matwalli Atwah
Once on President George W Bush’s list of the 22 most dangerous terrorists for his role in the 1998 embassy bombings, Atwah was killed by an airstrike in Pakistan in 2006.
Abu Laith al-Libi
The Afghan al Qaeda commander and spokesman, was killed by a drone attack in Pakistan in 2008.
Mustafa Abu al-Yazid
Also known as Saeed al-Masri, the alleged third-in-command for the al Qaeda and the chief financial officer was killed in an airstrike in Pakistan’s tribal region in 2010.
Atiyah Abd al-Rahman
The high-ranking al Qaeda leader was killed by a CIA Predator drone strike in Pakistan in 2011.
An expert al Qaeda bomb maker who helped orchestrate the Camp Chapman suicide attack in 2009, Yemeni was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan in 2010.
Abdallah Umar Qurayshi
The leader of two al Qaeda contingents in Afghanistan was killed in an airstrike in 2010.
The American-born cleric was killed by a Hellfire missile from a CIA drone in Yemen in 2011.
Al Qaeda in Yemen’s media boss was killed by the same Hellfire missile that took our Awlaki in 2011.
Al Qaeda’s second-in-command in Afghanistan was killed in a coalition airstrike in 2012.
Abu Yahya al-Libi
Al Qaeda’s former second-in-command was killed by a CIA drone strike in Pakistan in 2012.
The Taliban chief known for orchestrating attacks on American and NATO troops in Afghanistan died in a drone strike in 2013.
A top al Qaeda propagandist and the first American since World War II to be charged with treason, Gadahn was killed by a CIA drone strike in Pakistan in 2015.
Ali Awni Harzi
The ISIS commander and suspect in the 2012 Benghazi attack was killed in an airstrike in Mosul in 2015.
“Jihadi John” Mohammed Emwazi
The ISIS executioner known for his gruesome beheadings of Western hostages was killed by a drone strike near Raqqa, Syria, in 2015.
Akhtar Mohammad Mansour
The Taliban leader died when a drone strike destroyed his vehicle in Pakistan in 2016.
Abu Muhammad al-Adnani
The ISIS spokesman was killed by a drone strike in Syria in 2016.
The senior al Qaeda was killed by a U.S. military airstrike in Afghanistan in 2016.
Osama bin Laden
Well, we all know how this ended: