Senior Qaeda militant killed in Afghanistan: NATO
KABUL NATO SAID on Tuesday that Al Qaeda’s second in command in Afghanistan had been killed in an air strike near the Pakistani border.
The US-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan said Saudi-born Sakhr Al Taifi, also known as Mushtaq and Nasim, commanded foreign fighters and directed attacks on NATO and Afghan troops.
It described him as Al Qaeda’s “second highest leader in Afghanistan”, saying he frequently travelled between Afghanistan and Pakistan, “carrying out commands from senior Al Qaeda leadership”.
He also supplied weapons and equipment to insurgents, and managed the transport of insurgent fighters into Afghanistan, the military said.
NATO said he was killed in an air strike on Sunday with “one additional Al Qaeda terrorist in Watahpur district, Kunar province” which borders Pakistan.
The United States announced last year that it would focus military operations in Afghanistan towards the eastern provinces, which border Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt where US officials say Taliban and Al Qaeda-linked militants have sanctuary.
NATO forces are in Afghanistan helping the Western-backed government fight a bloody, Taliban-led insurgency following the USled invasion shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
There are around 130,000 international troops in Afghanistan and all NATO-led combat forces are due to leave by the end of 2014.
Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden was shot dead in a US special forces raid in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad on May 2, 2011.
According to a bin Laden letter released by the Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point in the United States, he recommended that Al Qaeda fighters head to Kunar to escape US drone strikes concentrated in the Pakistani tribal district of Waziristan. He said Kunar was fortified “due to its rougher terrain and the many mountains, rivers, and trees and it can accommodate hundreds of the brothers without being spotted by the enemy,” according to one of the letters released by West Point.