WASHINGTON (AP) – The top recruiter for the Islamic State group’s affiliate in Afghanistan was killed in an American drone strike on Monday, U.S. officials confirmed Tuesday, marking the first targeted attack on a leader of the IS extremists in that country.
Abdul Rauf and seven others were killed when the strike hit their car. Officials have expressed concerns about the Islamic State group seeking recruits in Afghanistan, as U.S. forces withdraw and Afghan forces take control of the country’s security.
Although the U.S. is no longer doing combat operations in Afghanistan, troops there – including special operations forces – are still conducting counterterrorism missions. There are about 10,600 U.S. troops in Afghanistan now.
The deputy governor of the southern Helmand province had said earlier this week that Rauf was killed, but U.S. officials awaited further evidence. The officials confirmed the death on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.
During the Taliban’s rule, which ended in late 2001, Rauf was a corps commander in the western province of Herat and in Kabul. Rauf spent years in the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba before being released several years ago.