I am of two minds about this. It is an impressive achievement of technology and intelligence. I probably would have pressed the button myself. Yet there is an argument of some force that it would have been more effective counter-terror to let him live:
- Zawahiri was in ill health and immobile.
- Ill health deprives one of ingenuity.
- Immobility facilitates contact tracing and bugging.
- He was an unpopular, uncharismatic leader, a factor in Al Qaeda’s relative inactivity.
- He will be replaced; the role is now looking for an actor.
- The replacement may have none of Zawahiri’s impediments.