Wanted Taliban commander in Kunar reported killed in US drone strike

Qari Dawat, a Taliban commander in the northeastern Afghan province of Kunar who has been hunted by US forces for years and has vowed to avenge the death of Osama bin Laden, is reported to have been killed in a US airstrike two days ago.

Dawat and three other commanders were killed by US drones in an attack in the district of Pech (also known as Manogai) early on the morning of Oct. 21, the district governor told The Afghanistan Times. The Taliban have not confirmed Dawat’s death.

US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal said they were aware of the reports of Dawat’s death, but would neither confirm nor deny that he had been killed.

Dawat, whose real name is Haji Mohammad Dawran Safi, is a senior Taliban leader in Pech. He has been hunted by the US military for more than four years.

The first report that Dawat was targeted appeared in November 2009. The US launched an airstrike in an effort to kill him, and claimed that four Taliban fighters were killed in the strike. Dawat “is known for attacking innocent civilians in the Kunar region, as well as international forces and bases,” the US military noted in a press release on Nov. 27, 2009, one day after the strike, without naming him.

Afghan officials confirmed that Dawat was the target of the 2009 airstrike, and said he survived. A relative of the targeted commander said Dawat survived the attack but that his wife, two children, and two neighbors were killed.

Dawat was responsible for the kidnapping of Paul Refsdal, a Norwegian journalist, on Nov. 5, 2009. Refsdal was released just six days later, after converting to Islam. [See LWJ report, Taliban commander behind reporter’s kidnapping targeted in Kunar, and Threat Matrix report, Embedded with the Taliban in Kunar, for more information.]

Dawat resurfaced in May 2011 after the death of al Qaeda emir Osama bin Laden. He said that he would “avenge” the terrorist leader and “follow in his footsteps.”

“We created special units for avenging the martyrdom of Sheikh Osama bin Laden,” he told Al Jazeera. “We will avenge him and follow in his footsteps, and we will maintain the momentum of the jihad against foreign and agent forces.”

In April 2012, Dawat again appeared in the media. This time, he said that dismantling and infiltrating the Afghan Army and police forces is the top “priority” of the Taliban.

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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  • Jeff Edelman says:

    If osama is in fact dead, then “follow in his footsteps” he apparently did indeed do.

  • Tm says:

    Keep decapitating the hydra. It is the only way.

  • Habib Malgeri says:

    What I could get from the report, it’s still unclear if he was killed or so. But some credible sources accepting his death in a drone attack in Qali Gel area of Manogai along with three other members. He was meanwhile a Salafi group commander, with having a big influence among the Safi (most of whom are Salafies) in Pech Valley (consist of Wata Pur, Manogai, and Chapa Dara districts of Kunar province). He was a good alley to the Arab fighters in Kunar and was reportedly receiving funds from them. He also involved in some development implementing projects such as building mosque and madressa in Pech valley.
    Just a bit of information I had. Other ways thanks Bill Roggio for your information, it was really helpful. I am waiting to hear more from you in the future.

  • Gerald says:

    Good Riddance! Why don’t the Human rights watchers ever do a report on the Civilians that the Terrorists kill? All you ever hear about are the accidental killing of noncombatants by drones. Killers like Dawat have killed thousands On Purpose!

  • jean says:

    The video posted by the Norwegian journalist after his escape gave some very interesting information on this guy. His location was compromised. My assessment was that he was more of a criminal than an Al Qaeda commander. The guy they nabbed in 2010 was Abu Iqlsis (sorry for the spelling) was a bigger catch.

  • Dave says:

    I appreciate your added information. I want to encourage you to comment again if you can add local knowledge.

  • DCWS says:

    Good job.
    We need to weed out Ayman Zawahiri and Mohammad Zawahiri. One is in Pakistan the other in Egypt.

  • Devendra says:

    The name “Dawat” in Urdu and Arabic means a an invitation to feast. So, Haji Muhammad Dawran Safi alias Dawat is having his feast with Allah. I am just wondering whether he has the 72 Virgins at the feast or he is lonely? Well, Dawat should be happy he got his wish of following Osama Bin Ladin. Sorry, The Seals did not come by personally to deliver the invitation but none the less it was offered and accepted. GOOD.
    All these Jihadists have to do is to accept the invitation cards (DRONES) America sends them. They get their wish of meeting Allah in the cause of Islam and we are happy to help facilitate the meeting. it is WIN-WIN.

  • Stu says:

    Ditto regarding Zawahiri,
    He is a cunning, dangerous fanatic. He was with bin Laden from the beginning, and taking him out would leave a very big hole. It is quite frustrating to know that he has been alive all these years.
    No doubt if not killed, he will spearhead a deadly big attack.

  • gb says:

    Good strike if true Just points to the value of good intelligence and analysis. Eventually,analysts are going to have a lot less to work with as the draw down pulls asserts from the field.


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