The Pakistani Taliban confirmed today that Qari Muhammad Yasin, a senior al Qaeda military commander, was killed along with three of his “companions” in a US drone strike on Mar. 19. The airstrike was carried out in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktika province. Yasin was a member of the Punjabi Taliban, which includes jihadists from various other Pakistani terrorist organizations who are aligned with al Qaeda.
The US has killed or captured approximately 250 al Qaeda and al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent leaders and members in Afghanistan in 2016. US officials have downplayed the extent of al Qaeda’s presence in the country for years. After the raids this year, US intelligence should prepare a fresh assessment.
A new video from the Taliban features several images and clips of al Qaeda leaders, further demonstrating that the two remain firmly allied more than 15 years after the 9/11 hijackings.
General John W. Nicholson Jr., who leads NATO’s Resolute Support and US Forces Afghanistan, said yesterday that the US is hunting al Qaeda in Afghanistan’s Kandahar, Zabul, Paktika, Ghazni, Kunar, Nuristan and Nangarhar provinces. His comments are just the latest indication that al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan has been underestimated.
The US announced today that it has carried out airstrikes in support of local fighters who are trying to dislodge the Islamic State from the Libyan city of Sirte. After initially advancing in May and early June, an offensive launched by the “Solid Structure” operations room ground to a halt, which likely prompted the US to assist with air support.
Amaq News Agency, a propaganda arm of the Islamic State, reports that Abu Omar al Shishani has been killed south of Mosul. In March, Amaq denied that Shishani was killed in an American airstrike in Syria.
The tactic of separating Muslims from non-Muslims and then executing the latter, which was pioneered by al Qaeda, has not been used by the Islamic State in the past.
The Turkistan Islamic Party released an audio message from its leader, Abdul Haq, on May 30. The message is the latest indication that Abdul Haq survived a US drone strike in 2010. The man identified as Haq blasts the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which swore allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in 2015. Haq claims the IMU has “disappeared” since.