According to a newly released UN monitoring team report, al-Qaeda’s relations with the Taliban “continue to be close and mutually beneficial.” The relationship has continued despite al-Qaeda’s reported concerns over the Taliban’s talks with the U.S.
Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security claims it has confirmed that Asim Umar, the emir of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, was killed during a Sept. 23 raid in Helmand province. Other key AQIS leaders were also killed in the fighting.
U.S. and Afghan officials say they targeted al Qaeda members in Musa Qala, a Taliban-controlled district in the southern Helmand province. Reports indicate that dozens of civilians perished during the clash that ensued.
Asim Umar, a senior al Qaeda official, has released a statement praising the Taliban’s “victory” in Afghanistan over the US. He also criticizes ISIS for dividing the jihadists’ ranks, praying that Allah ends the “fitnah.”
On Aug. 31, Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind’s leader, Zakir Musa, released an audio message in which he criticized the Pakistani government for supposedly betraying the jihad in Kashmir. Musa’s critique is consistent with al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent’s “code of conduct.”
AQIS quickly claimed responsibility for the murder of a prominent LGBT activist, Xulhaz Mannan, and his friend in Bangladesh. Mannan worked for USAID and previously worked for the US Embassy for eight years. AQIS has targeted alleged “blasphemers” in Bangladesh as part of a campaign authorized by Ayman al Zawahiri.
Asim Umar, al Qaeda’s top sharia official in Pakistan, will be holding a Q&A session online in May. The appearance is being promoted on social media.