US: Emir of Islamic State’s Khorasan province killed in Apr. 27 raid

The emir of the Islamic State’s Wilayah Khorasan (or Khorasan province), Abdul Hasib, was killed during a raid in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar on Apr. 27, according to a statement released by US Forces – Afghanistan today. The operation, which was conducted in conjunction with Afghan Special Security Forces (Ktah Khas), “also resulted in the deaths of several other high ranking” Wilayah Khorasan leaders and 35 of the group’s fighters.

Abdul Hasib “directed” the Mar. 8 assault on the Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan Hospital in Kabul, US-Forces Afghanistan said. In order to sow confusion, the jihadists dressed as hospital employees during that attack, which resulted in more than 100 Afghans being killed or wounded. Hasib “also directed fighters to behead local elders in front of their families and ordered the kidnapping of women and girls to force them to marry” Wilayah Khorasan fighters.

“This successful joint operation is another important step in our relentless campaign to defeat ISIS-K [Islamic State – Khorasan] in 2017,” General John Nicholson, the Commander US Forces – Afghanistan, said in a press release. “This is the second ISIS-K emir we have killed in nine months, along with dozens of their leaders and hundreds of their fighters. For more than two years, ISIS-K has waged a barbaric campaign of death, torture and violence against the Afghan people, especially those in southern Nangarhar.”

Abdul Hasib’s predecessor, Hafiz Saeed Khan, was killed in a US airstrike in the Achin district of Nangarhar in July 2016. Khan, a former commander in the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e Taliban, or TTP), announced his allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in late 2014. He served as Wilayah Khorasan’s first emir and now his successor, Abdul Hasib, has fallen in the same area of Nangarhar.

Abdul Hasib was killed during an operation that involved approximately 50 US Army Rangers and 40 Afghan commandos, according to the Department of Defense. The joint American-Afghan team was “inserted by helicopter into the Mohmand Valley about 10:30 p.m. local time” on Apr. 26 and immediately engaged in an “intense, three-hour firefight.” Two Americans were killed during the raid. The Pentagon is investigating the possibility that the Americans “were struck by friendly fire.” The battle involved “close-quarters fighting” with “enemy fire coming at them from 360 degrees.”

The battle took place near the location where the US dropped a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB, or “Mother of All Bombs”) on a Wilayah Khorasan tunnel complex earlier in April. Another American also perished in a separate battle against Wilayah Khorasan in Nangarhar in early April.

According to US Forces – Afghanistan, “hundreds” of Wilayah Khorasan fighters have been killed during a “counter” offensive that was launched against the group “in early March 2017.” More than half of the districts in Nangarhar that were once under the group’s control have been “liberated,” allowing “local residents to return to their homes for the first time in more than two years.”

For additional background information on the Islamic State’s Wilayah Khorasan, see FDD’s Long War Journal report: 2 American service members killed fighting Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan.

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

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  • Steve says:

    I’m confused on whether this information is positive or negative. After thousands of lives and $billions , it seems like what is success and or failure is a blur.
    Please help me understand where we are in this ISIS, etc. etc. campaign.

  • Timothy Blair says:

    Was it verified by ISIS? I find it quite strange because ISIS would normally celebrate their martyr and they would be the first one to announce it before dawn the very next day.

  • gitsum says:

    Well done, Nicholson (new slogan), beer to yah! Who’s dumb enough to be next?

  • Devendra Sood says:

    How about giving some rifles and handguns to the liberated people whom we know are definitley anti-terrorist. This way not only they can defend themselves but keep the terrorists also at bay. The terrorists would know that they would have to fight to get in to these villages. So, the terrorists can not just take over these villages wihtout a fight. Yes, there would be some risl taht some of the villagers might turn. But no risk, no gain.

  • Dan says:

    We’re seeing more action against IS-KP than the Taliban which tells me two things:
    1) We see IS-KP as a larger threat than the Taliban
    2) We are telling the Russians not to support the Taliban because we are committed to destroying IS-KP first.

    I would like to see an equal amount of action against both the Taliban and IS-KP, otherwise we are indirectly supporting the Taliban and giving them respite to manoeuvre/re-group.


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