Farouq al-Katani

Farouq al-Katani was a Qatari-Saudi dual national and a U.S.-designated member of al-Qaeda. He served as the group’s leader in the eastern zone of Afghanistan and reported to al-Qaeda’s senior leadership, according to the United Nations.“Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee Adds One Individual to Its Sanctions List,” United Nations Security Council, March 28, 2016, http://www.un.org/press/en/2016/sc12305.doc.htm. Katani was targeted in eastern Afghanistan in a U.S. drone strike on October 23, 2016.Wesley Morgan, “Al-Qaeda leader U.S. targeted in Afghanistan kept a low profile but worried top spies,” Washington Post, October 28, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2016/10/28/al-qaeda-leader-u-s-targeted-in-afghanistan-kept-a-low-profile-but-worried-top-spies/;
“Al-Qaeda leader killed in US drone strike in Afghanistan,” BBC News, November 5, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-37882010.
The Pentagon confirmed his death on November 2, 2016.“Statement by Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook Confirming Death of Al-Qaeda Leader,” U.S. Department of Defense, November 4, 2016, http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/997111/statement-by-pentagon-press-secretary-peter-cook-confirming-death-of-al-qaeda-l. Former acting CIA director Michael Morrell said that Katani was “a US counterterrorism expert’s worst nightmare,” being “smart” and a “charismatic leader.”Wesley Morgan, “Al-Qaeda leader U.S. targeted in Afghanistan kept a low profile but worried top spies,” Washington Post, October 28, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2016/10/28/al-qaeda-leader-u-s-targeted-in-afghanistan-kept-a-low-profile-but-worried-top-spies/.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury added Katani to the Specially Designated Nationals List on February 10, 2016.“Specially Designated Nationals List Update,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, February 10, 2016, https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20160210.aspx. According to Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook, from mid-2015, Katani was responsible for establishing safe havens for al-Qaeda fighters hiding in Afghanistan.“US Drone Strike Targets Top al-Qaida Leader in Afghanistan,” Voice of America, October 26, 2016, http://www.voanews.com/a/united-states-drone-strike-targets-qaida-leader-afghanistan/3568014.html. The Pentagon also described Katani as a “senior planner” of attacks against U.S. and coalition forces.“US Drone Strike Targets Top al-Qaida Leader in Afghanistan,” Voice of America, October 26, 2016, http://www.voanews.com/a/united-states-drone-strike-targets-qaida-leader-afghanistan/3568014.html.

The United Nations designated Katani on March 28, 2016. According to the United Nations, Katani acted as emir for the eastern zone of Afghanistan since at least 2009.“Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee Adds One Individual to Its Sanctions List,” United Nations Security Council, March 28, 2016, http://www.un.org/press/en/2016/sc12305.doc.htm. Katani directly participated in attacks against U.S. and coalition troops, such as in two attacks on convoys in 2010 that destroyed at least one vehicle. He was responsible for military training in northeast Afghanistan, a role he performed for “several years,” according to the United Nations.“Nayef Salam Muhammad Ujaym al-Hababi,” United Nations Security Council, March 28, 2016, https://www.un.org/sc/suborg/en/sanctions/1267/aq_sanctions_list/summaries/individual/nayef-salam-muhammad-ujaym-al-hababi.

Katani is believed to have helped transfer weapons and money to the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan.“Nayef Salam Muhammad Ujaym al-Hababi,” United Nations Security Council, March 28, 2016, https://www.un.org/sc/suborg/en/sanctions/1267/aq_sanctions_list/summaries/individual/nayef-salam-muhammad-ujaym-al-hababi. Katani was also a senior fundraiser, and solicited donations from Gulf countries since at least 2012.“Nayef Salam Muhammad Ujaym al-Hababi,” United Nations Security Council, March 28, 2016, https://www.un.org/sc/suborg/en/sanctions/1267/aq_sanctions_list/summaries/individual/nayef-salam-muhammad-ujaym-al-hababi.

During an intensifying phase of U.S. drone strikes against al-Qaeda in Pakistan in early 2016, the New York Times reported that U.S. officials remained highly concerned with Afghanistan-based Katani, who was described at that time by one official as “one of the most important remaining figures in the region.”Declan Walsh, “Drone Strikes on Al Qaeda Are Said To Take Toll On Leadership in Pakistan,” New York Times, April 24, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/25/world/asia/cia-qaeda-drone-strikes-warren-weinstein-giovanni-lo-porto-deaths.html?_r=0. Katani became a more familiar figure to al-Qaeda experts after Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. Joint Special Operations Command forces in Abbottabad in 2011. According to documents found in bin Laden’s compound, al-Qaeda’s then chief of operations Atiyah Abd al-Rahman wrote, “we have a good battalion over there [Konar and Nuristan provinces, Afghanistan] led by [Katani]…He is the best of a good crew. He recently sent us a message telling us that he has arranged everything to receive us; he said the locations are good, there are supporters and everything.”Wesley Morgan, “Al-Qaeda leader U.S. targeted in Afghanistan kept a low profile but worried top spies,” Washington Post, October 28, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2016/10/28/al-qaeda-leader-u-s-targeted-in-afghanistan-kept-a-low-profile-but-worried-top-spies/.

United Nations

March 28, 2016

The U.N. Security Council designated Farouq al-Katani through the UNSCR 12305 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee.“Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee Adds One Individual to Its Sanctions List,” United Nations Security Council, March 28, 2016, http://www.un.org/press/en/2016/sc12305.doc.htm.

U.S. Department of the Treasury

February 10, 2016

The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Farouq al-Katani as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224.“Specially Designated Nationals List Update,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, February 10, 2016, https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20160210.aspx.

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