Taliban's shadow governor for Kunar reported killed in US airstrike


Noor-Qasim-Sabari.jpg

Noor Qasim Sabari, the shadow governor for Kunar province, from a Taliban video released in 2012.

The National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's domestic intelligence service, claimed that the Taliban's shadow governor for Kunar province and several senior commanders were killed in an airstrike three days ago. The Taliban commander's death has not been confirmed.

The NDS issued a press release stating that Noor Qasim Sabari, the shadow governor of Kunar, was killed in an airstrike that targeted "a gathering of the senior Pakistani and Afghan Taliban leaders" on the evening of April 7, Khaama Press reported.

Sabari appeared in a video by the Taliban that was released in 2012. In that video, which is titled "The Ghazi of Ghaziabad," the Taliban welcomed two Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers suspected of killing US and Afghan soldiers in insider or green-on-blue attacks earlier in 2012. [See Threat Matrix report, Observations on Taliban video 'welcoming' rogue ANA soldiers.]

The airstrike, which would have been launched by the US military or the CIA, also reportedly killed Qari Osman, the shadow district governor for Shigal; Qari Nasir Gajar, the chief suicide attack coordinator; Mullah Bashir Gajar, the IED coordinator; Qari Sherin, an assassination squad leader; and senior commanders Qari Zubair, Qari Latif, and Qari Tari. It is unclear which of the senior commanders or attack coordinators, if any, are Pakistani Taliban members. Additionally, nine Taliban fighters are said to have been killed.

The Afghan Taliban has not released a martyrdom statement announcing the deaths of Sabari or the other commanders on its website, Voice of jihad. An inquiry on the NDS report that was sent to the Taliban by The Long War Journal has gone unanswered.

The International Security Assistance Force has also not commented on the reports of the airstrike in Kunar. ISAF stopped issuing press releases on its operations against the Taliban, al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups, such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, as of June 27, 2013.

For years, the rugged, remote Afghan province of Kunar has served as a sanctuary for al Qaeda, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and allied terror groups. The presence of al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba cells has been detected in the districts of Asmar, Asadabad, Dangam, Ghazibad, Marawana, Nari, Pech, Shaikal Shate, Sarkani, Shigal, and Watahpur; or 11 of Kunar's 15 districts, according to press releases issued by ISAF that have been compiled by The Long War Journal. The Taliban and al Qaeda are closely allied in the province.

The US appears to be continuing to hunt for senior Taliban and al Qaeda leaders in Kunar, despite its withdrawal from much of the province and the end of its counterinsurgency campaign there. Last year, two wanted senior al Qaeda and Taliban commanders were reported to have been killed in US airstrikes.

In mid-October 2013, Qari Dawat, a Taliban commander in Kunar who has been hunted by US forces for years and has vowed to avenge the death of Osama bin Laden, was reported to have been killed. And in mid-August 2013, US strike aircraft reportedly killed Qari Zia Rahman, dual-hatted al Qaeda and Taliban leader who operates in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and who trains female suicide bombers. The deaths of Dawat and Rahman were never confirmed.



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READER COMMENTS: "Taliban's shadow governor for Kunar reported killed in US airstrike"

Posted by Gabriel at April 9, 2014 11:10 PM ET:

The withdrawal has some advantages. The militants get lazy and meet all at once. Score one for the good guys!

Posted by Joe at April 9, 2014 11:32 PM ET:

Great news. If confirmed, this is a major hit.

Seems the recent decline in drone strikes lulled these pigs into dropping their guard relative to large gatherings of senior or quasi-senior leaders.

A lot of virgins are busy right now.

Posted by Jeff Edelman at April 10, 2014 12:37 AM ET:

It appears as though the NDS has infiltrated the taliban. There will be more deaths as a result of this. The taliban is going to kill some "spies."

Posted by donowen at April 10, 2014 9:58 AM ET:

Technology is eliminating the need to be in country-indeed to even be on the same continent. The Taliban will see this in the coming months that their perceived "victory" was a "pyrrhic victory" in reality. A significant portion of the population hates them and are willing to help target them. Attempts to have these kinds of meetings will result in more lethal results. As the old men die in larger quantities without an American in sight-they will need to come to the peace table, that is the only way to stop the slaughter and secure the airspace above them.

Posted by m3fd2002 at April 10, 2014 2:46 PM ET:

Don't get too encouraged by this tactical strike. Afghanistan is heading to a very bad place. Massive civil strife over a period of years if not decades, and eventual partition (maybe not official), with the north going to the tajiks, hazara's, and Turkomen, and the south to the pashtuns. This will eventually bleed into pakistan, where the pashtuns will want some sort of autonomy. And they will get it. This eventual end will be strewn with massive amounts of human loss and suffering (deserved or not).

Posted by Barry Larking at April 11, 2014 4:40 AM ET:

If confirmed this success must have been the result of human intelligence; the main players know all too well how they could be targeted through electronic surveillance. There is a struggle between factions going on here, I suggest, a shift caused by the withdrawal of ground troops and an ancient tradition best summed up by the judgement of 'old hands' on the North West Frontier in the age of 'The Great Game': "You can buy anyone but you only rent an Afghan."

Posted by Aftre at April 13, 2014 6:19 PM ET:

Great news. A major blow killing all those top commanders including some foot soldiers all at once.