In a major boost to the U.S. operations in war-ravaged Afghanistan, a U.S. drone strike has resulted in the death of a well-known “high-profile” Al Qaeda leader. The Pentagon and the U.S. Department of Defense on Saturday confirmed that their target, a man named Qari Yasin, was killed by a drone strike. According to Fox News, Qari Yasin was a “well known” Al Qaeda operative who was responsible for the deaths of several innocent victims. Yasin is also believed to have been directly involved in the deaths of at least two American service members in Afghanistan. According to the Pentagon, Qari Yasin was killed in a targeted drone strike conducted on March 19 in the Paktika province of Afghanistan.
Originally from the Balochistan province of neighboring Pakistan, Qari Yasin was also known to have close ties with the Tehrik-e Taliban, the Pakistani wing of the Taliban. In Pakistan, Qari was also wanted for several major terrorist attacks, including the September 20, 2008, bombing of the Marriot Hotel in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, where U.S. Air Force Maj. Rodolfo I. Rodriguez and Navy Cryptologic Technician Third Class Petty Officer Matthew J. O’Bryant were also among the victims.
Qari Yasin was also behind the 2009 terrorist attack on a bus that was carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. That attack on cricketers left six police personnel and two civilians dead and several others injured. A few Sri Lankan cricketers were also injured in the attack. Following this incident, there was almost a complete stoppage of international cricket in Pakistan owing to security concerns — which continues to this day.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis congratulated the men behind the killing of Qari Yasin in a statement.
“The death of Qari Yasin is evidence that terrorists who defame Islam and deliberately target innocent people will not escape justice.”
Experts have also long believed that Qari Yasin was a competent trainer who taught Taliban fighters how to make explosives and use electronic devices to make deadly weapons. In fact, The Long War Journal revealed that Mohammad Khurasani, the Pakistani Taliban spokesman, described Yasin as “as one of the greatest trainers of explosives and electronics in the fields of jihad.” While the number of Taliban fighters who have trained under Qari Yasin may never be known, most of Taliban’s bomb-making cadre were trained by Qari Yasin.
According to experts, Qari Yasin is also known to have ties with almost every jihadist organization that operated out of Afghanistan and the lawless Balochistan province of Pakistan. Several Pakistani newspapers have also said that Qari had worked for another Pakistani terrorist named Amjad Farooqi, who was behind two assassination attempts in 2003 that targeted the then-Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf. Both of these attacks were reportedly carried out at the behest of another Al Qaeda leader, Abu Faraj al Libi.
Farooqi is also known for his involvement in other terrorist attacks across Pakistan and was known to be a member of the little-known organization called the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. He was also involved with the dreaded Harkat-ul-Ansar and its successor, the Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, as well as Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami and later, the Jaish-e-Mohammed. Yasin is also believed to be a part of a group that attacked and killed another Pakistani Minister, the Home Minister of Punjab, Shuja Khanzada in 2015.
According to the Pentagon, the U.S. military had been behind Qari Yasin since the past decade. The Pakistani government had listed Yasin as the 10th most wanted terrorist in that country. It remains to be seen if the killing of Qari Yasin would have a significant effect on the operations of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
[Featured Image By Kirsty Wigglesworth, File/ AP Photo]