Pentagon: October airstrike killed two other al Qaeda leaders

Pentagon: October airstrike killed two other al Qaeda leaders
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A U.S. airstrike in October that the Pentagon said killed a top al Qaeda leader in Afghanistan also killed two other leaders.

The Pentagon said Monday that the Oct. 23 strike near Kunar, Afghanistan, killed Bilal al-Utabi and Abd al-Wahid al-Junabi.

Al-Junabi was a senior al Qaeda explosives expert, according to the statement.

Al-Utabi is described in the statement as a deputy to Faruq al-Qatani, the leader the Pentagon previously announced was killed in the strike.

“All three were actively involved in carrying out and plotting terror attacks inside and outside Afghanistan,” Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a statement.

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“The deaths of these three al-Qaida leaders will significantly reduce the group's ability to threaten the United States, our interests and our allies. This strike is further evidence that those who seek us harm are not beyond our reach.”

Al-Qatani was al Qaeda's emir for northeastern Afghanistan and was assigned by the group's leadership to re-establish safe havens for the group throughout the country, according to an October statement from the Pentagon announcing the strike. His death was confirmed in a November statement.

The October statement disclosed that al-Utabi was also targeted, but whether he was killed was still being assessed when al-Qhtani’s death was confirmed.

In the October statement, the Pentagon described al-Utabi as involved in the efforts to re-establish al Qaeda safe havens in Afghanistan and in efforts to recruit and train foreign fighters.