Accessibility links

Breaking News

Afghan Forces Kill Senior al-Qaida Leader

FILE - This undated photo released by the Army Times March 5, 2002, shows smoke rising from Taliban and al-Qaida positions in the hills of Sirkankel, Afghanistan, after heavy U.S. bombing.

Afghan security forces have killed Abu Muhsin al-Masri, a senior al-Qaida leader who was on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Most Wanted Terrorists list, Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) said in a tweet late Saturday.

Al-Masri has been charged in the United States with having provided material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization and conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals.

Al-Masri, believed to be al-Qaida's second-in-command, was killed during a special operation in Ghazni province in eastern Afghanistan, said the NDS, adding that he was the supreme leader of the organization in the Indian subcontinent.

Ghazni and Takhar provinces
Ghazni and Takhar provinces

The al-Qaida operative, who also went by the name Husam Abd-al-Ra'uf, was an Egyptian national, according to the FBI.

Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said fewer than 200 al-Qaida operatives remained in Afghanistan.

This month marks 19 years since the United States invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban rulers, who had harbored al-Qaida militants who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.

The United States has been gradually drawing down its troops from Afghanistan after striking a deal with the Taliban in February.

That deal is set to see foreign forces leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to negotiate a permanent cease-fire and a power-sharing formula with the Afghan government.

The intra-Afghan peace process kicked off in Doha last month. Despite the talks, fighting between Taliban and Afghan government forces has raged in recent weeks.

Last week, U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said the Taliban had agreed to "reset" their commitments under a troop withdrawal deal and reduce the number of casualties in the country.