Afghan security forces have killed Abu Muhsin al-Masri, a senior al-Qaida leader who was on the FBI’s most-wanted list, Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) said in a tweet late on Saturday.
Al-Masri has been charged in the United States with having provided material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organisation, and conspiracy to kill US nationals.
Al-Masri, believed to be al-Qaida’s second-in-command, was killed during a special operation in Ghazni province, the NDS said.
The FBI declined to comment.
The al-Qaida operative, who also went by the name Husam Abd-al-Ra’uf, was an Egyptian national, according to the FBI.
Last month, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said fewer than 200 al-Qaida operatives remain in Afghanistan. This month marks 19 years since the US invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban rulers, who had harboured al-Qaida militants behind the September 11 attacks.
The US has been gradually drawing down its troops from Afghanistan after striking a deal with the Taliban in February. Under that deal foreign forces are set to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counter-terrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula with the Afghan government.
The intra-Afghan peace process began in Doha last month. Despite the talks, fighting between Taliban and Afghan government forces has continued in recent weeks.
Last week, US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said the Taliban had agreed to “reset” their commitments under a troop withdrawal deal and reduce the number of casualties in the country.