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National Security & Defense

U.S. Confirms Killing of Al-Qaeda’s South Asia Chief

U.S. troops walk outside their base in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan (Reuters: Omar Sobhani/File Photo)

U.S. officials confirmed Tuesday that a joint U.S.-Afghanistan commando raid on Sept. 23 killed Asim Omar, the head of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), along with six other Al-Qaeda members in the southern Helmand province. News of the raid was first reported by Afghanistan’s intelligence agency.

Special forces struck a compound in the Musa Qala district, a Taliban stronghold, and took out Omar and six other Al-Qaeda fighters, including a courier for Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Umar, a Pakistani, headed AQIS from its inception in September 2014. 

Along with the initial statement, the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) shared pictures showing Umar both alive and dead. 

U.S. air strikes from an Air Force AC-130 gunship followed the raid to level the compound, but resulted in collateral damage, with Afghan officials telling the Associated Press that 40 people attending a wedding party in the area were killed. 

The operation also killed 22 Taliban fighters, the ADF reported. 14 people were arrested, including five Pakistani nationals and one Bangladeshi. The statement said a large warehouse of supplies and equipment was also destroyed.

News of Omar’s death comes on the 18th anniversary of the first American airstrikes in Afghanistan, and several weeks after President Trump confirmed the death of Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza in September. U.S.-Taliban peace talks are currently tabled.

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