Senior Al Qaeda leader al Masri killed in Afghanistan

Abu Muhsin al Masri, a senior al Qaeda leader who is the second in command


Abu Muhsin al Masri, a senior al Qaeda leader who is the second in command

Afghan security forces have killed Abu Muhsin al Masri, a senior al Qaeda leader who was on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Most Wanted Terrorists list, officials said late on Saturday.

Al Masri has been charged in the United States with having provided material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organisation, and conspiracy to kill US nationals.

The announcement came on the same day a suicide bombing at an education centre in Kabul has killed at least 18 people and wounded dozens.

Al Masri, believed to be al Qaeda’s second-in-command, was killed during a special operation in Ghazni province in eastern Afghanistan, said Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS), on its official Twitter account, adding that he was the supreme leader of the organisation in the Indian subcontinent.

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

Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said fewer than 200 al Qaeda operatives remain in Afghanistan.

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

US troop pullout

The United States has been gradually drawing down its troops from Afghanistan after striking a landmark 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 ceasefire 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, US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said the Taliban had agreed to “re-set” their commitments under a troop withdrawal deal and reduce the number of casualties in the country.