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Afghanistan says it has killed a top Al-Qaida leader wanted by FBI

Rahim Faiez,
Associated Press

Kabul, Afghanistan — Afghanistan claimed Sunday it killed a top al-Qaida propagandist on an FBI most-wanted list during an operation in the country’s east, showing the militant group’s continued presence there as U.S. forces work to withdraw from America’s longest-running war amid continued bloodshed.

The reported death of Husam Abd al-Rauf, also known by the nom de guerre Abu Muhsin al-Masri, follows weeks of violence, including a suicide bombing by the Islamic State group Saturday at an education center near Kabul that killed 24 people. Meanwhile, the Afghan government continues to fight Taliban militants even as peace talks in Qatar between the two sides take place for the first time.

This image released by the FBI shows the wanted poster of al-Qaida propagandist Husam Abd al-Rauf, also known by the nom de guerre Abu Muhsin al-Masri.

The violence and al-Rauf’s reported killing threaten the face-to-face peace talks and risk plunging this nation beset by decades of war into further instability. They also complicate America’s efforts to withdraw, 19 years after it led an invasion targeting the Taliban for hosting al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Details over the raid that led to al-Rauf’s alleged death remained murky hours after Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, claimed on Twitter to have killed him in Ghazni province. The agency released a photograph late Sunday afternoon it described as al-Rauf’s corpse, which resembled FBI images of the militant leader.

Al-Qaida did not immediately acknowledge al-Rauf’s reported death. The FBI declined to comment. The U.S. military’s Central Command and NATO did not respond to requests for comment.

The Afghan raid happened last week in Kunsaf, a village in Ghazni province’s Andar district some 90 miles southwest of Kabul, two government officials said.

Amanullah Kamrani, the deputy head of Ghazni’s provincial council, told the Associated Press that Afghan special forces led by the intelligence agency raided Kunsaf, which he described as being under Taliban control. On the village’s outskirts, they stormed an isolated home and killed seven suspected militants in a firefight, including al-Rauf, Kamrani said.