US Strike Kills High-Profile Terrorist Leader Qari Yasin

The U.S. Department of Defense has confirmed that a U.S. counter-terrorism airstrike conducted March 19 in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, resulted in the death of Qari Yasin.

Yasin, a well-known al Qaida terrorist leader was responsible for the deaths of dozens of innocent victims, including two American service members.

He was, a senior terrorist figure from Balochistan, Pakistan, with ties to Tehrik-e Taliban and had plotted multiple al Qaida terror attacks, including the Sept. 20, 2008, bombing on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.

That attack killed dozens of innocent people, among them U.S. Air Force Maj. Rodolfo I. Rodriguez and Navy Cryptologic Technician Third Class Petty Officer Matthew J. O’Bryant.

US Air Force Maj. Rodolfo Rodriguez & Navy Cryptologic Technician Third Class Petty Officer Matthew O’Bryant
US Air Force Maj. Rodolfo Rodriguez & Navy Cryptologic Technician Third Class Petty Officer Matthew O’Bryant

The 2008 suicide truck bombing in Islamabad killed more than 50 people. As NPR’s Philip Reeves reported then:

“There have been many suicide bombs in Pakistan in the last year and a half, but few more devastating than this. Hours after the blast, the Marriott Hotel continued to burn with such ferocity that it was in danger of collapse. Tired, dazed-looking rescue workers was still searching for trapped people and coming out with charred corpses.”

“The Marriott is one of only two five-star hotels in Pakistan’s capital. It’s a favorite with Western journalists, diplomats, and wealthy Pakistanis. It’s usually well-guarded. The explosion happened just after Iftar, the evening meal when Muslims end the day of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Hotel owner Sadaruddin Hashwani says a truck laden with explosives pulled up at the security barrier at the front of the hotel.”

Additionally, Yasin was also responsible for the 2009 attack on a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore. Six Pakistani policemen and two civilians were killed and six members of the team injured.

(Mar 3, 2009 – A dozen men attacked Sri Lanka’s cricket team with rifles, grenades and rocket launchers Tuesday ahead of a match in Pakistan, wounding several players and killing six police officers. Courtesy of the Associated Press and YouTube)

Qari Yasin
Qari Yasin

Paktika Province, where Yasin was killed, is an area where Pakistani Taliban operatives have been since 2014, according to The New York Times:

“The Pakistani Taliban, formally known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, are part of a loose and increasingly divided umbrella organization that once represented roughly 30 groups of militants. The organization was officially founded in 2007 by a prominent jihadist commander, Baitullah Mehsud, and for years it and allied groups like Al Qaeda have been based in the Pashtun tribal areas in northwestern Pakistan, particularly in North and South Waziristan.”

“The movement shares a close relationship with the Haqqani network, the most hard-core affiliate of the Afghan Taliban, which have been behind repeated suicide attacks in and around Kabul and eastern Afghanistan. The groups also cooperate and provide haven for Qaeda operatives, including Al Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahri.”

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“The death of Qari Yasin is evidence that terrorists who defame Islam and deliberately target innocent people will not escape justice,” said Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.