Afghan and Coalition special operations forces captured an al Qaeda facilitator during a raid in the eastern province of Paktia today.
The al Qaeda facilitator “coordinated insurgent activity throughout the area and provided reports to senior al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan,” the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release. The name and country of origin of the al Qaeda facilitator was not disclosed by ISAF.
This the first ISAF press release noting the capture or death of an al Qaeda operative since Nov. 29, 2011, when another facilitator was detained during a raid in the eastern province of Nangarhar.
Similarly, there has been a gap in recent ISAF reporting on operations against the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which has a strong presence in the Afghan east; no such operations were reported between Dec. 8, 2011, and Jan. 29. Just yesterday, however, ISAF reported on the killing of an IMU leader who directed suicide attacks in Takhar province.
In response to The Long War Journal‘s inquiries, ISAF Joint Command’s press desk told LWJ that the lack of reporting on raids against al Qaeda and the IMU “should not be misinterpreted as lack of operational rigor against those entities,” but would not disclose whether any raids against those groups had occurred between Dec. 8, 2011, and Jan. 29.
“ISAF continues to conduct combat operations against the spectrum of insurgent forces through-out Afghanistan year-round,” IJC stated. [See LWJ report, Afghan, ISAF troops kill IMU leader in north, for more details.]
Paktia an al Qaeda haven
Paktia province is a stronghold of the Haqqani Network, a Taliban subgroup with close ties to al Qaeda. Six senior Haqqani leaders, including Sirajuddin Haqqani, the group’s operational commander, have been designated as terrorists by the US government for their ties to al Qaeda. The Haqqanis are based in Miramshah in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.
Al Qaeda and allied groups maintain a presence in Paktika province, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal. US military press releases document the presence of al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad Union, and “foreign fighter” cells in the districts of Gardez, Jani Khel, Zadran, and Zurmat; or four of Paktia’s 11 districts.
Al Qaeda fighters are known to have been killed while fighting in Paktia. Last week, al Qaeda announced the death of a Saudi fighter who was killed in early 2009. The Saudi, who was known as Abdullah bin Muhsin al Shahri and as Abu Rawada, described an al Qaeda cell that operated under the command of Sheikh Abu Salamain in Gardez, Paktia’s capital city.
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