Mullah Dadullah, Taliban top commander, killed in Helmand

The corpse of Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah. Click to view.

Afghan officials, ISAF confirm the Taliban's most senior military leader was killed during fighting in the south

NATO and Afghan forces have struck a major blow to the Taliban's military leadership. Mullah Dadullah Akhund, the Taliban's top military commander, has been killed during fighting in the volatile southern province of Helmand. "He was killed last night and right now I have his body before me," Governor Assadullah Khalid of Kandahar province told Reuters. Governor Khalid displayed the body to a group of reporters in neighboring Kandahar province.

An AP reporter recognized Dadullah's corpse from television interviews and said the body "had no left leg and three bullet wounds: one to the back of the head and two to the stomach." NATO's International Security Assistance Force has confirmed his death. "Mullah Dadullah will most certainly be replaced in time, but the insurgency has received a serious blow," according to an ISAF statement. Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, has denied Dadullah was killed.

The media photographs Dadullah. Click to view.

Some reports indicate Dadullah was killed in the Gershk district, others claim he was killed near the Sangin and Nari Saraj districts. NATO and Afghan forces have been conducting major operations against the Taliban in these regions. Just yesterday, NATO said it killed over 70 Taliban and wounded another 30 during a week long battle to clear the Nari Saraj district. Another 20 Taliban were reported killed in the Sangin district yesterday.

Dadullah was thought to have been surrounded in the Chora district in neighboring Uruzgan province along with 200 of his fighters on April 26, but the Taliban said Mullah Dadullah was not among them. Dadullah then appeared on an interview on Al Jazeera, and claimed Osama bin Laden was alive, well, and leading the jihad in Afghanistan. "His recent al Jazeera interview and phone calls may have played a huge role in his death," Matt Dupee of said in an email.

mullah dadallah.jpg

Mullah Dadullah on Al Jazeera.

Mullah Dadullah sat on the Taliban Shura Majlis--or executive council. He was the Taliban's most senior military commander and reported to have been one of Mullah Omar's most trusted advisers. Dadullah joined forces with the Taliban at its formation in 1994, but fell out of favor "after he was accused for a bloody genocide in the central Bamyan province."

"Largely known for his brutality on the battlefield, he is labeled a blood-thirsty sadist who enjoys killing and torturing by military analysts," said Dupee. "Hazara residents in the central highlands who endured mass killings and a scorched earth campaign by Dadullah and his men in the late 1990's agree; referring to him as the 'Black Mullah,' a term signifying his dark heart." Dadullah was later reactivated to fight the Northern Alliance.

Dadullah escaped capture after the fall of the Taliban in late 2001 during the U.S. led Operation Enduring Freedom. He fled to South Waziristan, Pakistan, where he reconstituted his forces and continued to fight NATO and Afghan forces. Dadullah has orchestrated and promoted the Taliban's suicide campaign in Afghanistan and led the Taliban's conventional military operations in the critical southern provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan, and Zabul. Recently, Mullah Dadullah was said to have personally mediated between feuding Taliban and Uzbek forces in South Waziristan.

Dadullah's death may have a significant impact on the Taliban's much heralded "Spring Offensive," which NATO has countered by launching preemptive strikes since late winter against Taliban positions in Helmand and Uruzgan provinces.

Video of Dadullah's last interview with Al Jazeera on April 30, 2007


READER COMMENTS: "Mullah Dadullah, Taliban top commander, killed in Helmand"

Posted by Fight4TheRight at May 13, 2007 8:17 AM ET:


This news has made my day, my week, my Year! U.S. Troops, NATO and the Afghan forces deserve a huge pat on the back - not only for this major kill but for what they've been doing to the Taliban over the past 3 months.

As for Dadullah....good riddance, maggot.

Posted by Thanos at May 13, 2007 9:04 AM ET:

This is a great day, thanks for the thorough reporting Bill. What better gift to give to all the mothers in Helmand province on Mother's Day?

Posted by joe at May 13, 2007 9:20 AM ET:

Great News

The U.S. military did an excellent job removing a truly brutal and important leader in the Taliban movement. We have been killing a lot of their leaders including several high ranking ones such as Dadullah and mullah osmani. Apparently we have good intelligence on the Taliban or their leadership is just extremly sloppy. Dadullah did like to talk to the press a lot.

Now on to what comes next, this may or may not temporarily distrupt the Taliban for this year but in my mind the most important events to watch is how this effects the Taliban relations with Pakistan. If you believe Asia Times and the Pakistani reporter Syed Saleem Shahadad which i tend to, Dadullah was Pakistans Man with the Taliban. Dadullah with pakistani backing made himself the leader of the movement and took money,forces and prestige away from Haqqani and Hekmatyar. It shall be interesting to see if Haqqani who in my mind always was the most skilled commander in Afghanistan after Massouds death again rises to prominence.

Also in a somewhat unrelated point that may not belong in this post, there is almost a full scale war on the streets between the pakistani govt and the supporters of the dismissed judge.I seems the Pak taliban so far has not took sides but if they decide to fight with the judges supporters they can provide the muscle to fight the govt.

Posted by Z at May 13, 2007 10:13 AM ET:

An absolute monster. Not only for his more recent involvement in importing Iraqi tactics to Afghanistan (suicide bombings, IEDs, beheadings) but for a laundry list of atrocities, including the mass slaughter of Afghan Hazaras in the 90s and other ethnic cleansing crimes.

He got two rounds center mass and one in the head. Mark my word, it was a member of TF 145 who got the kill.

Bravo. We should not delude ourselves into thinking we have 'broke the Taliban's back' but we absolutely should use his death as a symbol of renewed commitment to Afghanistan. Especially in light of recent tragedies.

Posted by RJ at May 13, 2007 11:05 AM ET:

Very good news...out in the yard we have a dead very bad fox. Inside the coop, well, this story may not be so good, the foxes are already inside.

Posted by Rob at May 13, 2007 11:13 AM ET:

This is great news. I will be emailing
my Hazara friends and celebrate with them.
The military fight against the Taliban has
been agressive and well done this year.
Canadians and Brits have done hard fighting
and this victory belongs to all of them.
While the politics of failure festers in
Washington DC, the military is carrying
this war forward. Bless em all.

Posted by grognard at May 13, 2007 12:04 PM ET:

Actually Joe has a good point. If I were in the Taliban's position this loss would be a good lesson as to why you don't go toe to toe with the US military. Destabilizing Pakistan might be a better option, creating in effect a new Taliban state and another failed state that the US has to deal with.

Posted by Neo-andertal at May 13, 2007 12:12 PM ET:

What's the biggest difference between the campaign in Afghanistan and Iraq? The rough terrain helps and having the bloodletting off of the TV set helps too, but they aren't the major deciding factor. The biggest difference is Al Quada has to run it's fight alone in Western Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Iraq they aren't getting recruiting, supply, logistics, training, intelligence, advice, and direction from Syria and Iran combined with the remainder of the Iraqi security apparatus. The Syrian state has been at the center of Middle east terror since 1963 and has long been better at it than anyone else. The Iranian effort was pretty sloppy during the beginning years of the Iraqi war but they are getting much better at it. In Afghanistan and Pakistan Al Quada doesn't benefit from the same level of state support. The core of Al Quada is very dangerous and effective but they simply don't the extensive staffing and support needed to effectively support large numbers of Teliban forces against NATO forces.

Posted by Tommy at May 13, 2007 12:15 PM ET:

Fantastic!!! Marvelous!!

After over 5 years of not capturing or killing a single member of the leadership council, we've taken out 3 major members in just 6 months!!

Osmani, Obaidullah, Dadullah...

Now, how about Haqqani and Omar?...

Posted by Neo-andertal at May 13, 2007 12:15 PM ET:

Oh, good greef!

"In Iraq they aren't getting" = In Iraq they are getting

I didn't pick that up when I changed the sentence.

Posted by Al Reasin at May 13, 2007 12:29 PM ET:

It is a shame that our government's information organs have not gone into complete propaganda mode over this killing. Since the media believes that Afghanistan is the real and righteous war, we should be going after this as I read the killing of Admiral Yamamoto was during WWII.

Posted by Z at May 13, 2007 12:30 PM ET:

I'd disagree neo-anderthal. The difference between Iraq and Afghanistan is that in Iraq Al Qaeda still only makes up a minority of the insurgency. They still compete with nationalists, tribalists, and Iraq-minded Islamists for territory, recruits, and attention. And many of the former are now allying with the And at the same time they are rivaling with the interests of Iran-backed militias.

In Afghanistan/Pakistan however, just about all the combatants are fully allied with Al Qaeda. The Taliban, Haqqani, Hekmatyar, Mehsud, Faqir, the IMU, LeT, LeJ, HuM, etc. etc. as well as their support from large elements of the ISI and Pakistani military. Jihadists have a monopoly on the insurgency in that region.

Posted by Z at May 13, 2007 12:39 PM ET:


"They still compete with nationalists, tribalists, and Iraq-minded Islamists for territory, recruits, and attention. And many of the former are now allying with the"

That should read:

They [Al Qaeda] still compete with nationalists, tribalists, Iraq-minded Islamists for territory, recruits, and attention. Many of the LATTER are now allying with the Anbar Salvation Front. As well as having to fight Shia militias alligned with Iran.

Posted by Anthony (Los Angeles) at May 13, 2007 1:44 PM ET:

Good news, indeed, and probably very welcome to the poor people of southern Afghanistan -- or to anyone who suffered at the hands of this psycho.

It seems to me that this has to cause some disruption and confusion in the Taliban's chain of command. It might present a good opportunity to hit them hard in the south, while they're still reeling from the news.

Posted by Afghanistanica at May 13, 2007 7:21 PM ET:

RE: Dadullah escaping capture in 2001.

Dadullah did not so much flee to Waziristan in late 2001 as he did probably fly in a Pakistani military jet out of Kunduz with angry NA watching and Americans knowing about it. Or you can believe the miraculous escape story. An old mistake has finally been dealt with.

Posted by mxpwr03 at May 13, 2007 9:16 PM ET:

So much for the Spring Offensive. Al Jazeera is going to take a hit now that they lost one of their exclusive interview-ees.

Posted by stormin1961 at May 14, 2007 12:06 AM ET:

"had no left leg and three bullet wounds: one to the back of the head and two to the stomach."

i'm rather interested in that back of the head wound. is it possible that he was offed by his own men in order to avoid capture?

Posted by captainjohann at May 14, 2007 1:13 AM ET:

Was Osama also one of those who escaped from Kunduz in Pakistani ISI covert heliops

Posted by Afghanistanica at May 14, 2007 1:31 AM ET:

RE: Was Osama also one of those who escaped from Kunduz in Pakistani ISI covert heliops?

No. It was the northern Taliban commanders, Pakistani ISI advisers and Al Qaeda 055 brigade fighters, plus Uzbek IMU fighters who "escaped" Kunduz in Pakistani military cargo planes (plus possibly in a few helos). Osama never was in the north, neither was Mullah Omar.

Posted by Marlin at May 27, 2007 10:50 PM ET:

The Times has an article up today making the claim that Britain's SBS commandos played a key role in the killing of Mullah Dadullah.


THE one-legged Taliban commander whose death was hailed as a coup for coalition forces in Afghanistan was killed in an attack by British troops rather than Americans and Afghans as previously claimed.

Mullah Dadullah, the bearded warlord who lost his leg fighting the invasion of Soviet "infidels" in the 1980s, was cornered by a squadron from Britain's Special Boat Service (SBS), after a remarkable surveillance operation mounted against his brother. The SBS has been charged with carrying out special operations in Afghanistan while the SAS concentrates on Iraq.

Until now, the killing had been attributed to a joint American-Af-ghan force of special operation troops but defence sources revealed last week that the US contribution, although a key to success, was limited to intelligence from a secret unit called Task Force Orange, which was monitoring a satellite phone used by Dadullah.

How the task force came to be tracking the powerful mullah's movements is a story of military cunning and opportunism. It began with an exchange of prisoners which, at the time, had all the appearance of a humiliating setback for coalition forces.

The release of Daniele Mastro-giacomo, an Italian journalist kidnapped by Taliban militants in March, in exchange for five Taliban fighters - including Mullah Shah Mansoor, Dadul lah's brother - raised eyebrows throughout the region.

It was a doubly controversial deal. First, it did not include Mas-trogiacomo's Afghan translator - and to calm dissent in government ranks President Hamid Kar-zai was obliged to promise that it was a "one-off". At the same time, the release of such a high-ranking Taliban leader as Dadullah's brother appeared to go against coalition policy.

Task Force Orange took advantage of the situation by using sophisticated signals technology to monitor Mansoor's movements. In this way he was followed back to a Taliban training base in Quetta, Pakistan.

A satellite phone used by Dadullah's men then came under surveillance and the signal was followed when the group set off two weeks ago from Quetta to Afghanistan. The convoy led by Dadullah - and believed to include Mansoor - was tracked to Brahmcha in the southern Helmand province close to the border with Pakistan.

The Sunday Times: SBS behind Taliban leader's death