Al Qaeda leader and bin Laden associate captured in northern Afghanistan

An al Qaeda facilitator with ties to slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was captured during a special operations forces raid in northern Afghanistan yesterday.

The al Qaeda commander, who was not named, was captured “along with two of his associates” during a night raid after he was tracked to a compound in the Nahr-e Shahi District in Balkh province, the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release.

The al Qaeda commander was linked to bin Laden and was based out of Pakistan, ISAF stated.

“The facilitator was a Pakistan-based attack planner and a close associate of senior al Qaeda insurgents,” ISAF said. “He is a former associate of Osama bin Laden and [it is] suspected he was with bin Laden in Afghanistan in 2001.”

The al Qaeda facilitator is the second senior terrorist captured in Balkh in the past three days. On May 31, a facilitator from the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan who was behind a deadly attack in Takhar province was captured in Mazar-i-Sharir in Balkh. That attack killed two senior police commanders, two Afghans, and two German soldiers, and wounded the governor and a German general who commanded forces in the north.

Balkh province is a known haven for al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in the Afghan north. The presence of terror cells has been detected in the districts of Mazar-i-Sharif, Nahr-e Shahi, and Sholgarah; or three of Balhk’s 14 districts, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal. The province is an ideal staging and transit point for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Balkh shares a border with Uzbekistan, and is a transit route for NATO supplies that pass through the province from that country.

Recent clashes with al Qaeda fighters in the east and raids against the terror group contradict claims that al Qaeda has only 50 to 100 operatives in Afghanistan. These claims have been made by top US intelligence and military leaders, including most recently by General David Petraeus, the commander of ISAF.

ISAF and Afghan forces have had multiple engagements with al Qaeda commanders and fighters since mid-April. On April 14, an ISAF airstrike in Kunar killed several al Qaeda leaders and fighters, including Waqas, a Pakistani commander, and Abu Hafs al Najdi, a Saudi emir.

On May 3, Afghan troops killed and wounded more than 25 al Qaeda fighters in the Barg-e-Matal district in Nuristan.

And on May 10, ISAF and Afghan forces killed two al Qaeda fighters, one from Saudi Arabia, and one from Morocco, and captured a “Germany-based Moroccan al Qaeda foreign fighter facilitator” during a raid in Zabul. Security forces also “found passports and identification cards from France, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia amongst ten insurgents killed during the operation,” ISAF said.

ISAF has also targeted Taliban leaders who organize al Qaeda fighters in Quetta to stage attacks in Afghanistan. One Taliban commander, who operates in Kandahar province, was targeted on May 26. Another Taliban commander commander, who operates in Zabul province, was targeted on May 19, and again on May 29.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Gabriel says:

    The organization is starting to collapse as we speak. Another strike against Al Queda, and their religious believers.

  • Ghafour says:

    the arrested people has na thing to with IMU or Al Qeada, they were all civilian

  • namvet says:

    Ghafour, the people were not arrested; they were captured and they were not civilians; the were combatants. Are you one of them??

  • destab says:

    How do you know this for sure Ghafour?
    Were you listening in on their interrogation and heard them protest this is so?
    All insurgents are civilian until they display weapons or intent. That is the ROE of armed forces from the civilised world. I for one trust that if it appears they are innocent they will be released and recompensed.
    If not let them hang, but that’s seen as too barbarious in the western world now too. The truth will tell.

  • destab says:

    Pure gold Mirage12896!!
    I hope AQAP are hunted down during the chaos in Yemen at this time. Anwar al-Awlaki is a marked man and he can’t wash off the blood.

  • Charles says:

    I think Ghulam Farooq Wardak may be overstating the case. But AQ’s and Taliban’s public statement’s not withstanding–it does make sense that his followers would be none to happy with his passing and fearful for their own lives as they see the USA & allies turn up one of their leadership after another–presumably as a result of grabbing OBL’s files.

    See the article below from the Washington Times

    By Ashish Kumar Sen

    The Washington Times

    7:22 p.m., Thursday, June 2, 2011

    A large number of Taliban and al Qaeda fighters

  • Charles says:

    On its face it looks like the purpose of this anti terror squad mentioned in the AP/washington times article below –is precisely to keep the USA from taking down AQ and Taliban in Pakistan–or in the very least to give the Pakistanis the ability to pick and choose which Taliban & AQ the USA can take down. Most likely the latter but given that the Pakistanis have have already taken Al Zawahiri’s courier into protective custody–there is reason to suspect the former as well.

    See below & links

    AP sources: U.S., Pakistan form an anti-terror squad

    By Kimberly Dozier

    Associated Press

    3:41 a.m., Thursday, June 2, 2011


  • James says:

    Thanks for the link.
    The Israelis just may have given US the right idea (with the Stuxnet worm).
    Most of that software AQ uses is most likely pirated and hence would have security holes aplenty. It’s high time for US to exploit those weaknesses.
    (It would be also helpful if Silicon Valley software developers (like Adobe, Inc.) would pitch in and help.)
    There is a whole new ‘front’ to this war that has yet to be exploited by US and that front is the internet.
    Hopefully, they will come up with not just software manipulations but also hardware manipulations (if they’re not doing it now).
    For instance, I know for a fact they could [and should] develop a way to remotely and surreptiously transmit keyboard strokes when entering pass codes on a keyboard.

  • Mr. Wolf says:

    It’s worth noting that the AQ media wing, is not as naive and nubie as you may want to think. Many of the cyber jihadists are not willing to walk onto a battle field, but are willing to tweet some sat info back to their friends, in real time. WTO protests, civil unrest in the Med, and mobile phones have all made the “cyber front” much more dynamic than say restrict all .af/.pk domains, or monitor cell phone calls. The difference with suxtnet, or any other virus, is that the AQ leadership is not known to use a proprietary OS, such as a nuclear power plant would. You may end up releasing a thousand snakes, with 80% coming back to bite you too.
    On a related note. Capture is always better than killed. Good job guys! Keep up the hunt.

  • David Verbryke says:

    The US-led forces in Afghanistan got a morale jump from the killing of bin Laden and we have steadily been hunting these evil scum to the ends of the earth. Thankfully, they are growing tired, making mistakes, and losing power for the first time in a long time. Go USA.


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