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AFP
October 9, 2019

Al-Qaeda’s South Asia chief killed in Afghanistan

Top Story

AFP
October 9, 2019

KABUL: The leader of al-Qaeda’s South Asian branch was killed in a US-Afghan joint raid in southern Afghanistan last month, Afghan officials confirmed on Tuesday.

Asim Umar, who led al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) from its inception in 2014, was killed during a raid on September 23 on a Taliban compound in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province.

Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security claimed Umar was a Pakistani citizen, though some reports say he was born in India. He “was #killed along with six other AQIS members, most of them Pakistani”, the NDS said on Twitter, adding tat Umar had been “embedded” with the Taliban.

The raid was part of a lengthy and confusing overnight operation from September 22-23 for which the US provided air support. Authorities said they would investigate reports that 40 civilians, including children, were killed in an airstrike during the operation. The NDS said that among the six other AQIS members killed in the raid was a man identified as “Raihan”, a courier for al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. US Forces-Afghanistan declined to comment. The middle-aged Umar was relatively unknown when he was picked to lead the newly created AQIS in 2014. The jihadist branch was established to try to rouse fighters in India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

An Afghan Taliban source said in 2014 that Umar had worked with the Punjabi Taliban, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chapter in Pakistan’s most populous province, for some years before linking up with al-Qaeda.Umar—an alias—was named by al-Zawahiri in a video message. A Pakistani intelligence official said Umar had travelled to Syria, though it was not possible to confirm this.

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