NDS kills Al Qaeda commander in eastern Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security killed an Al Qaeda commander and a Taliban leader during a recent operation in the eastern province of Paktika. That happened despite the fact the Taliban insists that Al Qaeda operatives, and all foreign fighters, have not been present in Afghanistan since 2001.

The NDS announced yesterday that Abu Muhammad al Tajiki, a commander in Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, and Taliban commander Hazrat Ali were killed in Gayan district in Paktika province. Al Tajiki and Ali were “masterminds of the complex, bloody and large-scale joint Taliban and al-Qaeda attacks,” according to Pajhwok Afghan News.

Additionally, the two were “liaisons” between Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and “planned and advised the Taliban on large-scale spring attacks.” Al Tajiki and Ali were “planning to provide advanced weapons and military training to the Taliban fighters in Ghazni, Logar and Zabul provinces.”

Al Tajiki is the latest Al Qaeda leader killed in Afghanistan since the U.S. signed the Doha Agreement with the Taliban on Feb. 29, 2021. The agreement stipulated that the Taliban would not allow Al Qaeda to use Afghan soil to attack the U.S. and its allies, and would prohibit Al Qaeda from operating in Afghanistan.

The Taliban hasn’t lived up to its end of the agreement, as Al Qaeda continues to operate inside Afghanistan, fighting alongside the Taliban. In January, the U.S. confirmed that Afghan security forces killed Husam Abd-al-Ra’uf, a senior Al Qaeda leader who is also known as Abu Muhsin al-Masri, during a raid in Ghazni province. Ra’uf, a veteran Al Qaeda leader, was killed in a village controlled by the Taliban.

In Nov. 2020, Afghan security forces killed Mohammad Hanif, a veteran Pakistani jihadist who rose to the highest levels of leadership within Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, during a raid in Farah province. Hanif was involved in the 2002 assassination attempt on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and the suicide attack on the U.S. Consulate in Karachi that same year.

Afghan security forces have also killed or captured Al Qaeda operatives in Badakhshan, Farah, Ghazni, Kapisa, Kunar, Helmand, Nimroz, and Nangarhar since July 2020.

Despite the abundant evidence of Al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan, with the support of the Taliban, the latter group continues to deny that Al Qaeda remains in country. The Taliban has made this false claim repeatedly in order to deflect criticism that it continues to shelter Al Qaeda to this day.

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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