The International Security Assistance Force confirmed that an al Qaeda leader and trainer who was targeted in an operation in Kunar province on June 6 has been captured.
ISAF announced the arrest of the “senior al Qaeda leader” in a press release that was issued on June 15. The al Qaeda leader “is responsible for conducting al Qaeda training in Watahpur district.”
Additionally, “senior al Qaeda leadership sends money, weapons, supplies and new recruits to him for instruction in terrorism operations,” ISAF continued. “Following their training, the leader conducts attacks targeting Afghan and coalition forces with the new fighters and equipment.”
Four “extremists,” including the al Qaeda leader, were captured in the June 6 raid in Watahpur [see LWJ report, ISAF targets al Qaeda leaders in Kunar]. ISAF did not identify the nationalities of the captured “extremists,” but told The Long War Journal that there were “indications” of the involvement of “Arab” fighters. However, it is unclear if Arabs were among the captured “extremists.”
ISAF launched five separate raids against al Qaeda’s network in Kunar between June 6 and June 7. Two different al Qaeda leaders were targeted as well as a Taliban commander who supports al Qaeda’s operations in the area. The two al Qaeda commanders are likely members of al Qaeda’s Shadow Army, or the Lashkar al Zil. The paramilitary force fields small conventional units in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and also embeds military trainers within Taliban units in both countries.
Watahpur is a known hub of al Qaeda activity in Afghanistan. ISAF has conducted three operations against al Qaeda’s network in the district since the end of May. In 2012, eight of the 16 raids against al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba’s networks occurred in the Watahpur district alone, according to a study by The Long War Journal. In those operations, 10 senior al Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders or operatives were killed, including al Qaeda’s second-in-command for Afghanistan, al Qaeda’s leader for Kunar, and the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s emir for Kunar. [For more information on al Qaeda’s network in Kunar, see LWJ report, ISAF targets al Qaeda leader in Kunar, from May 28.]