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Apr 26th, 2011

Key al-Qaida Figure Killed in Afghanistan, NATO Says

‘We were able to deprive al-Qaida of a significant operator,’ officials tell NBC News

A wounded Afghan lies on a bed in the main hospital of Asadabad in Kunar Province on April 13, 2011 after he was injured in a suicide bomb attack in Asmar district. A suicide attack ripped through a gathering of tribal elders in eastern Afghanistan, killing 10 people, interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary said. (Photo credit: AFP — Getty Images)

The Associated Press and Reuters via
April 26, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan — A NATO airstrike earlier this month killed a key al-Qaida operative in Afghanistan — a regional commander in charge of suicide bombings and cash flow, the international military coalition said Tuesday.

NATO identified the man killed in the April 13 airstrike in Dangam district of eastern Kunar province as Abu Hafs al-Najdi, also known as Abdul Ghani. The alliance said the strike also killed a number of other insurgents, including another al-Qaida leader known as Waqas.

“Abdul Ghani was responsible for the coordination of numerous high-profile attacks. On the morning of his death, he reportedly directed the suicide attack that killed tribal elder Malik Zarin and nine other Afghan civilians,” an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) statement said.

After running terrorist operations against the Saudi government, Ghani fled to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border where he served as a liaison between the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban as well as a leader of insurgent operations, officials told NBC News.

Officials did not say whether Ghani was killed by a Predator strike or by a U.S. warplane, but did tell NBC News he was targeted. …

Ghani was the highest ranking al Qaida official killed in Afghanistan “in a long time,” officials said.

“We were able to deprive al-Qaida of a significant operator,” the official added.

Al-Najdi, a Saudi citizen, directed al-Qaida operations in Kunar and traveled regularly between Afghanistan and Pakistan to coordinate with associates across the border, NATO said. He coordinated suicide bombing attacks as well as kidnappings and oversaw the transfer of money from Pakistan to cells in Afghanistan.

NATO said it had been chasing al-Najdi since 2007 and finally pinpointed him while he was meeting with Waqas.

News of his death came a day after hundreds of insurgents tunneled their way out of a high-security jail in southern Kandahar, triggering an extensive manhunt and tightening of security along the Pakistan border. …

An ISAF spokesman would not name the coalition’s top insurgent target for fear of hampering their search, but alliance commanders have previously claimed there are only 50 to 100 al-Qaida fighters still active in Afghanistan. …

Full story


5/29/2012 Update

Number 2 Al-Qaida Leader in Afghanistan Killed in NATO Airstrike


How will Obama’s terrorist ‘kill list’ look 10 years from now? (MSNBC “Morning Joe,” May 29, 2012) — President Obama personally oversees a top-secret process for deciding who from al-Qaida should be placed on a so-called “kill list,” the New York Times reports. The Morning Joe panel considers how this list will be judged by history. (12:13)

Reuters via
May 26, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan — The second highest al-Qaida leader in Afghanistan was killed in a weekend airstrike in the country’s volatile east near the border with Pakistan, NATO-led forces said on Tuesday.

Saudi Sakhr al-Taifi, also known as Musthaq and Nasim, was responsible for commanding foreign insurgents and directing attacks against coalition and Afghan forces, NATO said in a statement.

He frequently traveled between Afghanistan and Pakistan, carrying out commands from senior al-Qaida leadership, supplying weapons and equipment to insurgents and transporting insurgent fighters into Afghanistan, the statement said.

He was killed on Sunday in the Watahpur district of Kunar province after being identified with another al-Qaida militant.

No civilians were harmed and no civilian property was damaged, the statement said.

Full story


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — April 26, 2010

Iraq Election Turmoil

Image: Nouri al-Maliki
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
(Photo: Nabil al-Jurani / AP file)

One year ago today, I reported that a review panel invalidated votes cast for 52 candidates in Iraq’s election, throwing into doubt the slim lead of former prime minister Iyad Allawi’s cross-sectarian, Sunni-backed Iraqiya alliance over Shi’ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition and setting the stage for a possible spike in sectarian violence.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — April 26, 2009

Flu Pandemic Fear Spreads in U.S.

Two years ago today, on April 26, 2009, I reported that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced a public health emergency in connection with the H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak that had already killed dozens in Mexico and sickened 20 in the U.S.

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