Husam Abd al-Rauf was a senior propagandist for al-Qaeda. Al-Rauf, who was on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Most Wanted Terrorists list, was killed by Afghan security forces in October 2020 in Kunsaf, Ghazni province, Afghanistan.“Senior al-Qaeda leader Abu Muhsin al-Masri killed in Afghanistan,” Al Jazeera, October 25, 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/25/senior-al-qaeda-leader-abu-muhsin-al-masri-killed-in-afghanistan.
Al-Rauf allegedly joined mujahedeen fighters in Afghanistan to combat Soviet forces during the Afghan War in 1986.Rahim Faiez, Tameem Akhgar and Jon Gambrell, “Afghanistan claims killing an al-Qaida leader wanted by FBI,” Associated Press, October 25, 2020, https://apnews.com/article/afghanistan-islamic-state-group-suicide-bombings-kabul-taliban-80225157b62c9af88620c0ea76ed177d. He later served as al-Qaeda’s media chief for several years. According to the Afghan presidential palace, al-Rauf was “al-Qaeda’s leader for the Indian subcontinent.”Rahim Faiez, Tameem Akhgar and Jon Gambrell, “Afghanistan claims killing an al-Qaida leader wanted by FBI,” Associated Press, October 25, 2020, https://apnews.com/article/afghanistan-islamic-state-group-suicide-bombings-kabul-taliban-80225157b62c9af88620c0ea76ed177d.
Al-Rauf was allegedly a close aide to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, and had provided unspecified support to the Taliban and Haqqani network for years. In December 2018, al-Rauf was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list in connection to his membership in al-Qaeda.Roshan Noorzai, “Afghan Government Says Taliban Maintaining Ties With Al-Qaida,” Voice of America, November 6, 2020, https://www.voanews.com/extremism-watch/afghan-government-says-taliban-maintaining-ties-al-qaida.
A federal arrest warrant for al-Rauf was issued in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on December 27, 2018, after he was charged with conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization; providing material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization; and conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals.“HUSAM ABD-AL-RA'UF,” Federal Bureau of Investigation, https://www.fbi.gov/wanted/wanted_terrorists/husam-abd-al-rauf.
On October 25, 2020, the Afghan government announced that Afghan security forces killed al-Rauf in following a raid the week prior in Kunsaf, Ghazni province. Upon storming an isolated home, the security forces killed seven suspected militants, including al-Rauf. Amanullah Kamrani, the deputy head of Ghazni’s provincial council, claimed that Kunsaf was under Taliban control, and it is not certain if the Taliban had been providing al-Rauf with protection.Rahim Faiez, Tameem Akhgar and Jon Gambrell, “Afghanistan claims killing an al-Qaida leader wanted by FBI,” Associated Press, October 25, 2020, https://apnews.com/article/afghanistan-islamic-state-group-suicide-bombings-kabul-taliban-80225157b62c9af88620c0ea76ed177d. If the Taliban provided al-Rauf protection, they would be in direct violation of their February 2020 agreement with the U.S. government. Among other commitments, the Taliban agreed to renounce al-Qaeda and prevent al-Qaeda and other groups from using Afghanistan as a base for terrorism against the United States.Steve Balestrieri, “Taliban And Al-Qaeda Continue To Have Close Ties Despite Us Peace Deal,” SOFREP, November 2, 2020, https://sofrep.com/news/taliban-and-al-qaeda-continue-to-have-close-ties-despite-us-peace-deal/.