Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security issued a statement on Tuesday confirming the death of Asim Omar, a “member of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent.”
The NDS said that Omar was killed in an operation by Afghan forces in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province in the south of Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s spokesman Qari Muhammad Yousuf Ahmadi rejected the claim that Omar had been killed in the attack.
“We categorically reject this claim by Kabul officials and consider it a part of enemy-fabricated propaganda,” the Taliban statement reads.
Instead, Ahmadi claimed, the raid was carried out on a wedding ceremony.
According to the NDS, “Abu Raihan, Omar’s courier to the network’s leader Ayman Al Zawahiri, was also killed,” along with other “high profile elements of Al Qaeda.”
The NDS stated that six women, including Omar’s wife, were arrested while they were fighting against Afghan forces, and that an additional 15 Taliban members were also killed in the operation.
Omar was appointed to the leadership post in 1993 by Al Zawahiri, according to intelligences sources.
“He (Omar) was declared leader when the branch was formed for the Indian subcontinent in 2014. This branch operates in different regions. Three years ago, an (Afghan forces) operation was carried out in Paktia, and many insurgents were killed, including many Pakistanis. But when the National Unity Government decided to evacuate from Musa Qala, the area became a hub for drug trade and Asim’s group went to Musa Qala. He was one of the key elements of Al Qaeda and had close ties with Ayman Al Zawahiri,” said Rahmatullah Nabil, the former head of the NDS.
“It’s an important branch, they could recruit easily, and they had programs for the Indian subcontinent. They wanted to operate from this area, they had very close relations with the Taliban and they still have-- therefore, this branch is important for them,” added Nabil.
The US had imposed sanctions on Omar, and the US Treasury describes him, in a file available online, as born in India but having lived in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The NDS says that Omar had ties with the intelligence services of Pakistan, Iran and the Taliban’s Quetta Shura.
The NDS statement also claimed that Omar had also a role in the collapse of Ghazni city and an attack on Farah province.