The National Directorate of Security of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan reported that Afghan security forces killed a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), Mohammad Hanif. Although the Taliban has often denied their involvement with al-Qaeda, the latest military operations have underlined how strong is the presence and penetration of the terrorist organisation in Afghanistan.
Mohammad Hanif was born in the Pakistani city of Karachi. Previously was a member of the Taliban, but later he joined al-Qaeda. From Pakistan, he managed to arrive in Helmand province in Afghanistan with the support of the Taliban and then he moved to Farah province, living there without the cover of the Taliban.
The Afghan National Directorate of Security stated that Hanif was a close aide of the former head of AQIS, Asim Omar, who was killed in Helmand last September. According to an Intelligence agency report, the security forces’ operation in Bakwa District in the territory of the Western Afghan province of Farah resulted in the AQIS leader’s killing and two Pakistani women’s arrest.
Two weeks ago, the Afghan National Directorate of Security reported the elimination of a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda, Abu Mohsen al-Masri, in the province of Ghazni. The FBI added al-Masri to the list of the most wanted terrorists worldwide.
Why does it matter?
Because the Taliban has been repeatedly accused of continuing to interact with al-Qaeda even though recently, the representative of the Qatari office of the Taliban, Mohammad Naim Wardak, stated that there is no extremist group in Afghanistan.