The U.S.-led NATO force in Afghanistan killed al-Qaida's second-highest leader in the country in an airstrike in Kunar province, the coalition said Tuesday.
Sakhr al-Taifi, also known as Mushtaq and Nasim, was responsible for commanding foreign insurgents in Afghanistan and directing attacks against NATO and Afghan forces, the alliance said. He frequently traveled between Afghanistan and Pakistan, carrying out commands from senior al-Qaida leadership and ferrying in weapons and fighters.
The airstrike that killed al-Taifi and another al-Qaida militant took place Sunday in the eastern province, the coalition said.
The U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was carried out because al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden used the country as his base to plan the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S.
Most of al-Qaida's senior leaders are now believed to be based in Pakistan, where they fled following the U.S. invasion. The terrorist organization is believed to have only a nominal presence in Afghanistan.
Many senior al-Qaida commanders have died in U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan's northwest tribal region, and bin Laden was killed by U.S. commandos in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad last May.
Bin Laden advised al-Qaida militants to leave Pakistan's North and South Waziristan tribal areas because of the threat of drone attacks, according to letters seized from the compound where he was killed.
In one of the letters, he recommended they go to Kunar province because of "its rougher terrain; too many mountains, rivers, and trees that can accommodate hundreds of brothers without being spotted by the enemy," according to the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, which published the documents.