NATO kills al Qaeda #2 in Afghanistan

NATO - International Security Assistance ForceImage by isafmedia via Flickr

International forces in Afghanistan say they have killed their number two insurgent target in the country - senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Ghani.

The Saudi citizen died in an air strike almost two weeks ago in Kunar province, near Pakistan, Nato-led forces said.

Abdul Ghani, also known as Abu Hafs al-Najdi, ran training camps and planned attacks on tribal leaders and foreigners, the Nato statement said.

Nato estimates some 100 al-Qaeda members still operate in Afghanistan.

The alliance says it has killed more than 25 al-Qaeda leaders and fighters in the past month. There is no independent confirmation of the claim.

A spokesman for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) would not say who was number one on the most wanted list, citing the possibility of hampering the search.


Ahmed Rashid, an expert on the Taliban, told the BBC that the death of Abdul Ghani was a significant achievement for Nato.

"He's been helping organising some of the Pakistan Taliban groups on the Pakistan side of the border, and was obviously trying to do the same on the Afghan side of the border," Mr Rashid said.


Al-Qaeda now depends more and more on the Pakistan Taliban, Mr Rashid says, because the Afghan Taliban are less welcoming and publicly do not want to be associated with the group.

I suspect their ties are to the Haqqani network in Pakistan. Al Qaeda is now a relatively small force in Afghanistan hiding and training in areas abandoned by the US and NATO such as Kunar province where this guy was likely killed.
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