How a deadly raid shows al Qaeda retains global reach under Taliban ‘protection’

A raid on a remote village in Afghanistan kills an ageing al Qaeda leader wanted by the FBI. Messages to the group’s cells around the world are seized. Two drone strikes on militants in northwest Syria swiftly follow.

Details of a little-publicized October raid targeting a senior al Qaeda militant, Husam Abd-al-Rauf, in the Afghan province of Ghazni have revealed how the terror group continues to thrive in Afghanistan under Taliban protection, and remains connected to its other franchises across the globe, according to accounts provided by Afghan intelligence officials to CNN.

The operation against al-Rauf netted al Qaeda messages between Afghanistan and Syria, one Afghan official said. Two rare US strikes against al Qaeda militants in Syria’s Idlib province followed in the ten days afterwards, although US officials played down any connection.

The previously undisclosed details of the al-Rauf raid contribute to a picture of how tight al Qaeda’s bonds with the Taliban are, according to one senior Afghan intelligence official speaking to CNN. It is “now much deeper than we think,” the senior official said. “It is not only now an ideological connection, it’s also a family connection. There are intermarriages. And that is impossible for Taliban to stop, and to not allow [al Qaeda] to do something outside” the country.

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