India-Born Al Qaeda Chief Of Subcontinent Killed In US-Afghan Raid, Says Officials, But Taliban Denies

New Delhi: India-born Asim Umar, the chief of the Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS, has been killed during a joint US-Afghan raid on a Taliban hideout in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, according to Afghan officials. As per the statement released by Afghanistan’s intelligence agency on Tuesday, American and Afghan commandos killed the head of an affiliate of Al Qaeda in a southern Afghanistan raid last month. However, hours after the Afghan government’s announcement, the Taliban denied the assertion, calling it propaganda by ‘officials of the stooge Kabul administration’. “We categorically reject this claim by Kabul officials and consider it a part of enemy fabricated propaganda,” Taliban spokesperson Qari Muhammad Yousuf Ahmadi said in a statement.

Umar, who was in his early 40s, was designated as a “global terrorist” by the US which placed the AQIS on the list of “foreign terrorist organisation” in 2016. He led the AQIS from its formation in 2014.

Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS shared pictures purportedly showing Umar both alive and dead alongside the statement. It said the terrorist was killed during a joint US-Afghan raid on a Taliban compound in Musa Qala district of Helmand province on September 23. The statement released by the officials further mentioned that Omar was killed along with six other AQIS members, most of them Pakistani. Among them was Raihan, Umar’s courier to Al-Zawahiri. “They had been embedded inside the Taliban compound in the Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala,” the NDS said in a statement.

NDS has tweeted about the killing of Umar during the operation in Helmand province on September 23. “NDS can now confirm the death of Asim Omar, leader of #Al_Qaeda in the #Indian Subcontinent (AQIS, in a joint US-Afghan raid on a Taliban compound in Musa Qala district of Helmand province on Sep. 23,’ the tweet read.

On the contrary, the Taliban said their enemy is trying to use such claims to conceal the crime it perpetrated in Musa Kala. The “truth of the matter remains that the said operation in Musa Kala district only caused heavy civilian losses,” the spokesperson said.

Who was Asim Umar

Asim Umar was born as Sana-Ul Haq in Sambhal in Uttar Pradesh, reportedly graduated from Darul Uloom seminary in Deoband in 1991. He later travelled to Pakistan where he studied at the Darul Uloom Haqqania Nowshera, the seminary which is dubbed as the ‘University of Jihad’.

He was a former member of US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organisation Harakat ul-Mujahidin – a Pakistan-based terrorist group with branches across the Indian subcontinent.

He was in early 40s and was designated as a “global terrorist” by the US which placed the AQIS on the list of “foreign terrorist organisation” in 2016.

As per the report, he masterminded a plan to hijack a Pakistani navy frigate in Karachi in 2014, when ten paramilitary members were killed, and 15 were wounded.

About Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS

Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent is a group of the base of Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent, usually abbreviated as AQIS. It is an Islamist militant organisation which aims to fight the governments of Pakistan, India, Myanmar and Bangladesh in order to establish an Islamic state.

This group is listed as a terrorist organization by the United Nations, United States, Canada, India and Pakistan.

The AQIS claimed responsibility for the September 6, 2014 attack on a naval dockyard in Karachi, in which militants attempted to hijack a Pakistani Navy frigate.

It has also claimed responsibility for the murders of activists and writers in Bangladesh, including that of US citizen Avijit Roy, US Embassy local employee Xulhaz Mannan, and of Bangladeshi nationals Oyasiqur Rahman Babu, Ahmed Rajib Haideer and AKM Shafiul Islam.

By 2017, AQIS boasted several hundred members and had cells in Afghanistan’s Helmand, Kandahar, Zabul, Paktika, Ghazni, and Nuristan Provinces, Seth G Jones, a strategic expert, had said during a Congressional testimony before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.

In October 2015, US and Afghan forces targeted a large training camp in Kandahar Province, killing over one hundred operatives linked to AQIS al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent.

(with inputs from agencies