ISIS leader reportedly killed in U.S. drone strike
AFGHANISTAN — A former Taliban leader now thought to be ISIS’ leader in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been killed in a U.S. drone strike, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency said Saturday.
In a statement, the National Directorate of Security reported that Hafiz Saeed was killed along with 30 other insurgents in a strike on their compound in the Achin region of Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar Province.
“As a result of efforts made by the NDS, the location of ISIS fighters’ gathering was found and the information was shared with the coalition forces who then carried out an airstrike on them,” the Afghan agency said.
U.S. Army Col. Brian Tribus said American forces conducted a strike in Achin on Friday against “individuals threatening the force.” He did not elaborate.
The strike represents a seemingly big victory in Afghanistan’s fight against ISIS, a terrorist group that has been blamed for numerous atrocities and conquered vast swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria while also branching out with affiliates elsewhere.
In March, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told U.S. Congress that the group that calls itself the Islamic State poses a “terrible threat” to his country and others nearby.
While it isn’t anywhere as big or as successful as its Syrian and Iraq counterparts, the ISIS branch in Afghanistan has been tied to violence — including an April incident in which a suicide bomber on a motorbike killed at least 33 people and injured over 100 more n front of the Kabul Bank in Jalalabad.
The Afghan government, with help from its allies, has fought back. One such example came earlier this week, when the National Directorate reported that Shahidullah Shahid, a former Taliban spokesman who pledged allegiance to ISIS, has been killed in an airstrike in eastern Afghanistan.
The death of Saeed announced Saturday appears to be another milestone in Afghanistan’s fight against ISIS.
The man killed, however, is not a man with the same name who faces a $10 million bounty.
That man is Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the leader of Pakistan’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa (Party of Truth), which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States. Among other things, that party’s military wing, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, is accused of carrying out a November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, India, that killed at least 164 people.
Asif Khurshid, a spokesman for Jamaat-ud-Dawa, told CNN on Saturday that Hafiz Mohammed Saeed is alive and well in Lahore. He’s been there openly for years, even granting a 2012 interview to CNN despite the bounty on him.
CNN’s Brian Walker and Sophia Saifi contributed to this report.