Afghan forces kill senior al Qaeda leader who was on FBI most wanted list

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Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said fewer than 200 al Qaeda operatives remain in Afghanistan.

Al-Qaida militants. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Al-Qaida militants.

(photo credit: REUTERS)

Afghan security forces have killed Abu Muhsin al-Masri, a senior al Qaeda leader who was on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Most Wanted Terrorists list, Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) said in a tweet late on Saturday.

Masri has been charged in the United States with having provided material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, and conspiracy to kill US nationals.

Masri, believed to be al Qaeda’s second-in-command, was killed during a special operation in Ghazni province in eastern Afghanistan, said the NDS, adding that he was the supreme leader of the organization in the Indian subcontinent.

The al Qaeda operative, who also went by the name Husam Abd-al-Ra’uf, was an Egyptian national, according to the FBI.

This month marks 19 years since the United States invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban rulers, who had harbored al Qaeda militants who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.

The United States has been gradually drawing down its troops from Afghanistan after striking a landmark deal with the Taliban in February.

That deal is set to see foreign forces leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power sharing formula with the Afghan government.

The intra-Afghan peace process kicked off in Doha last month. Despite the talks, fighting between Taliban and Afghan government forces has raged in recent weeks.

Last week, US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said the Taliban had agreed to “re-set” their commitments under a troop withdrawal deal and reduce the number of casualties in the country.

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