Top al-Qaida leader killed in Afghanistan

Bin Khatab was one of extremist group’s most senior leaders

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KABUL — Afghanistan’s intelligence agency and the U.S. military announced Tuesday that a series of joint U.S.-Afghan operations killed a top leader of the extremist al-Qaida network along with a number of other members.

Omar bin Khatab was the most senior leader killed in Afghanistan since the Taliban was driven from power in late 2001, said an official with the Afghan National Directorate of Security.

The U.S. military command in Afghanistan confirmed Tuesday the death of Khatab and “multiple other” al-Qaida operatives in Afghanistan, saying it had conducted several related operations in the last few weeks in Ghazni, Paktia and Zabul provinces. The Afghan intelligence agency said scores of other al-Qaida members were killed.

U.S. military officials described Khatab as the No. 2 leader of al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent, or AQIS. They said he was directly involved in fighting Afghanistan government and foreign troops and had a role in advising the Taliban in night attacks using rockets and mortars.

“This operation is a testament to the real growth the Afghan forces have achieved over the past year,” said Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. “It is also another example of the lethality of the undefeated Afghan Special Forces and the success of working side by side with our Afghan partners.”

Bin Khatab, also known as Omar Mansoor, was killed in air and ground operations in the Gilan district of Ghazni province southwest of the capital, the Afghan intelligence official said. The intelligence agency’s statement did not give details on the joint operation or how authorities confirmed Khatab was killed.

In its statement, the agency said that “80 other members” of al-Qaida were killed, including three top figures, in operations in Zabul and Paktia near the border with Pakistan and adjacent to Ghazni province.

The statement added that 27 members of the network were captured.