Afghan Special Forces killed the number two man in al-Qaeda for the Indian subcontinent, Abu Muhsin al-Masri, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) said on Saturday. The operation was conducted in the Andar district of Ghazni province in the country’s east. NDS did not release any more details.
The Afghan intelligence service tweeted the news.
Al-Masri, also known as Husam Abd-al-Rauf, is an Egyptian national listed on the FBI‘s list of most-wanted terrorists. The U.S. issued a federal arrest warrant in 2018 after al-Masri was charged with conspiracy to kill American nationals and providing material support and resources to foreign terrorist organizations.
The U.S. signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February. The deal has led to the gradual withdrawal of American troops from the country. Under the agreement, the U.S. coalition is to leave Afghanistan by May 2021. In exchange, the Taliban agreed to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula with the Afghan government. Another crucial condition is that the Taliban no longer allow terrorist groups to freely roam the country.
Terrorists from al-Qaeda had trained in Afghanistan before the 9/11 attacks and Osama bin Laden was living there in 2001. The refusal of the Taliban to turn over bin Laden was the catalyst for the U.S. invasion.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently stated that less than 200 al-Qaeda operatives remain in Afghanistan.
The killing of Al-Misri comes after a deadly suicide attack on Saturday at an education center in the heavily Shiite neighborhood of Dasht-e-Barchi of western Kabul. At least 18 people were killed and 57 wounded in the attack, including several students. The casualty toll is expected to rise.
Tariq Arian, a spokesman from the Interior Ministry said that the suicide bomber was trying to enter the center when he was stopped by security guards.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack and the Taliban rejected any connection with it. Some Afghan officials are blaming it on the Taliban while others on the Islamic State (ISIS).
A similar type of suicide attack occurred at another education center in August 2018 in which 34 students were killed. In that case, an ISIS affiliate had claimed responsibility. ISIS has launched several large-scale attacks on minority Shiites, Sikhs, and Hindus, whom it views as apostates.
Hundreds of Sikhs and Hindus were recently forced to flee Afghanistan after an ISIS gunman killed 25 in an attack on their shared place of worship in Kabul.
Earlier on Saturday, nine people in eastern Afghanistan were killed after their minivan struck a roadside bomb, according to officials. A second roadside bomb killed two policemen that were responding to the first explosion.