2 al Qaeda commanders killed in December airstrike in Afghanistan

Two al Qaeda operatives who were associated with a top terrorist leader were among seven jihadists killed in a US airstrike along the Afghan-Pakistan border in December 2013. The al Qaeda operatives were traveling with members of the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban.

The airstrike, which took place on Dec. 13, 2013 in the Lal Pur district of the eastern province of Nangarhar, targeted a boat that was transporting al Qaeda and Taliban operatives on the Kabul River, according to a report in Dunya Online, an Urdu-language newspaper in Pakistan. A translation of the article was obtained by The Long War Journal.

Also killed in the airstrike were three members of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and two members of the Afghan Taliban.

“They had held a joint meeting in Nangarhar and they were on their way to Kunar through the Kabul River when the drone attack killed them,” Dunya Online reported.

The two al Qaeda leaders were described as “close companions of Ilyas Kashmiri,” the renowned Pakistani jihadist who was killed in a US drone strike in South Waziristan in June 2011. Kashmiri rose through the ranks of Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, or HUJI, led Brigade 313, and ultimately served as the leader of al Qaeda’s Lashkar al Zil, or Shadow Army, and as a member of al Qaeda’s military shura at the time of his death.

Two US intelligence officials who track al Qaeda in the region told The Long War Journal that two al Qaeda operatives were indeed among those killed in the December 2013 airstrike in Nangarhar. The identities of the al Qaeda and Taliban operatives were not disclosed.

The al Qaeda operatives were commanders in the Lashkar al Zil, al Qaeda’s paramilitary unit that fields forces in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and also embeds military trainers within Taliban units in both countries. These trainers provide instruction for battling security forces in local insurgencies, as well as knowledge, expertise, funding, and resources to conduct local and international attacks. [For more information on this unit, see LWJ report, Al Qaeda’s paramilitary ‘Shadow Army,’ from February 2009.]

The Shadow Army receives support from a host of Taliban groups in the region, including the Afghan Taliban, the Mullah Nazir Group, Hafiz Gul Bahadar’s Taliban faction, and the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, as well as a plethora of Pakistani terror groups such as the Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiban, and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. The commanders of some of these groups, such as Ilyas Kashmiri (HUJI) and Badr Mansoor (HuM), and Farman Shinwari, have risen to key leadership positions within al Qaeda’s Shadow Army.

The US has targeted and killed several of the Shadow Army’s top leaders in drone strikes in Pakistan. Among those killed were Abu Laith al Libi, Abdullah Said al Libi, and Ilyas Kashmiri, the former emirs of the Shadow Army.

Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups, including many based in Pakistan, are known to operate in Nangarhar province. ISAF has reported on 32 raids against al Qaeda’s network in Nangarhar since 2007, according to a study of ISAF’s press releases conducted by The Long War Journal. The last reported raid took place on June 14, 2013.

In late June of 2013, ISAF stopped reporting on its raids against al Qaeda, after completing its transition of security responsibilities to the Afghan National Security Forces. ISAF’s halt in reporting on its raids against al Qaeda has shut off information on the targeting of al Qaeda’s network in Afghanistan.

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



  • irebukeu says:

    Does this mean the administration is now taking the position that there are fewer then 98 al Queda left in Afghanistan?

  • Kristy says:

    While much of the focus of various government leaders is on al-Qaeda, the Taliban, etc, I’m wondering why we’re not focusing on who enables them.. the Muslim Brotherhood. And why we ignore the threat of Islam itself.
    Egypt was smart enough to ban the Muslim Brotherhood until Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech, which then enabled them to begin the so-called Arab Spring. Egypt quickly learned its lesson and has now rightly labeled the MB a terrorist organization. Why hasn’t the United States?
    In the now infamous Muslim Brotherhood Explanatory Memorandum for North America, the MB has vowed, in writing, to destroy America. Obama continues to aid and abet them. The U.S. Code defines aiding and abetting one’s enemies as Treason, yet Obama remains in power. Why?
    The United States Constitution protects freedom of religion. Is Islam a religion, or is it more of a totalitarian seditious ideology that fully intends to destroy us? One only has to look at the Middle East and North Africa for the answer to that question. History has shown us that many of those countries were primarily Christian, although you’d never know it now.
    Many are afraid of calling out Islam and understanding what it truly is. After reading the Quran, the Hadith, the Sunnah, and Reliance of the Traveler, a highly recognized book on Sharia law, it is easy to see that Islam is not as much a religion as it is a complete way of life. It not only has rules for Muslims, but for non-Muslims as well. A Christian or Jew living under Sharia law has three choices: convert to Islam; pay the jizya tax in order to live as a second class citizen, fully subjugated; or be put to death.
    Groups like CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, send their leaders who quote peaceful verses from the Quran. What many people don’t realize is that the peaceful, Meccan verses are abrogated, or superseded by the violent, Medinan verses. Muhammad and his followers didn’t conquer the Middle East in peace. It was conquered through the sword.
    What’s being waged in America is civilization jihad. Our White House, government, schools, organizations, and churches have all been infiltrated. Sharia law is being used here. Great Britain has 85 Sharia courts. Although we are years behind them, Sharia is still creeping in. Unchecked immigration brings even more Sharia adherents. What are we doing about it?
    America, we’re at a crossroads. We can either identify the threat or continue to enable it. Thank you for listening.


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram