Coalition and Afghan special operations forces killed an al Qaeda facilitator who served as a trainer and courier in an eastern Afghan district where US Navy SEALs were killed after their helicopter was shot down several months ago.
The raid took place yesterday in the Sayyidabad district in Wardak province. The combined special operations team killed the al Qaeda facilitator after he opened fire on the force from a building. Two “insurgents” were captured and “multiple weapons to include bomb making material, firearms, grenades, and ammunition” were found and destroyed during the operation, the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release.
The facilitator’s name was Mujib Rahman Mayar and “he was a local Afghan,” ISAF told The Long War Journal.
Mayar “trained insurgents and worked as a courier,” the ISAF release said. “He delivered messages and transported money for the al Qaeda network.”
Al Qaeda is known to embed small teams of trainers with Taliban and other terrorist groups, and in the east is known to fight on the battlefield as small units. [See LWJ reports, Al Qaeda’s paramilitary ‘Shadow Army’ and ‘Foreign trainers’ active in southeastern Afghan province, for more information on al Qaeda’s role in Afghanistan.]
Over the past several months, Wardak province has been the scene of controversy, and particularly in Sayyidabad. The Taliban have been in control of the Tangi Valley, which runs through Sayyidabad, since the withdrawal of US forces from Combat Outpost Tangi this spring. US troops turned over the base to the Afghan Army, which immediately abandoned it. The Taliban later released a videotape that showed hundreds of fighters and senior Taliban leaders massing at the abandoned base and conducting a tour.
The Sayyidabad district is also the location where the Taliban shot down a US Army Chinook helicopter on Aug. 6. Thirty-eight US and Afghan troops, including 17 US Navy SEALS from the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (more commonly referred to as SEAL Team 6), were killed in the crash. ISAF told The Long War Journal that it does not have information that links Mayar, the al Qaeda operative killed on Nov. 18, to the Chinook that was shot down.
And on Sept. 10, the Taliban detonated a massive suicide bomb outside of Combat Outpost Sayyidabad, killing four Afghans and wounding more than 100 people, including 77 US soldiers. US commanders later blamed the attack on the Haqqani Network, a powerful al Qaeda subgroup.
Al Qaeda is known to maintain a presence in Wardak province. The presence of terror cells has been detected in the districts of Maidan Shah, Sayyidabad, and Tarnek Wa Jaldak, or three of the province’s eight districts.
On Nov. 1, 2010, ISAF targeted a cell leader in Maidan Shah district who commanded “a cell of approximately 50 foreign fighters,” according to an ISAF press release. ISAF often uses the term “foreign fighters” interchangeably with al Qaeda. The cell leader served as “a suicide-attack facilitator and leading small-arms and improvised explosive device attacks against ANSF and ISAF.” And on Oct. 13, 2010, ISAF searched Tarnek Wa Jaldak district for a Taliban leader who “regularly moves weapons and foreign fighters from Pakistan into the province.”
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.