Coalition and Afghan special operations forces have killed the Taliban’s top leader for the northwestern province of Badghis along with a senior Taliban military commander in the province.
Mullah Ismail, the Taliban’s shadow governor of Badghis province, and Abdul Hakim, a senior military commander, were killed during a raid on Oct. 6, the International Security Assistance Force reported. Eighteen other Taliban fighters were also killed, according to Baghlan’s police chief.
As a top military commander in Badghis, Hakim “had operational control over Taliban fighters, suicide bombers, directed improvised explosive device strikes, indirect fire and complex ambush attacks on coalition forces,” ISAF stated.
Ismail and Hakim are among five top Taliban leaders killed or captured in the north over the past week. On Oct. 4, Maulawi Jawadullah , the district shadow governor for Yangi Qalah in Takhar was killed in an airstrike. On Oct. 5, Qari Ziauddin, the shadow governor for Faryab province, was killed. And also on Oct. 5, Coalition and Afghan forces captured Saifullah, the Taliban’s shadow governor for the district of Chahar Darah in Kunduz. Both Zianuddin and Saifullah took orders from the Peshawar Shura, one of four Taliban military councils based in Pakistan. And Saifullah also had close links to Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an al Qaeda affiliate.
The Taliban establish shadow or parallel governments in the regions they control or where the Afghan government is weak. These shadow governments fill the void by dispensing sharia justice; mediating tribal and land disputes; collecting taxes; and recruiting, arming, and training fighters.
The Taliban have established shadow governments throughout Afghanistan, with provincial and militarily leaders appointed to command activities. In January 2009, the Taliban claimed to be in control of more than 70 percent of Afghanistan’s rural areas and to have established shadow governments in 31 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.
Badghis is a Taliban hub for operations in the northwest
The Balamurghab district serves as the Taliban’s main operations hub for northwestern Afghanistan. Taliban commanders in Badghis have claimed to have 74 bases scattered throughout the Balamurghab district alone. Both Balamurghab and the neighboring district of Ghormach are considered to be under Taliban control. US, Spanish, Italian, and Afghan forces now maintain a presence in the Balamurghab district at Forward Operating Base Columbus.
Badghis is critical to the Taliban’s northern front. The Taliban are attempting to isolate the province by keeping the instability high so the paved section of the northern ring road cannot be completed. The Taliban want to use their safe havens in Badghis to launch attacks against neighboring Faryab province and eventually Mazar-i-Sharif.
Coalition and Afghan forces have been targeting the Taliban in Badghis for years. In February 2009, Mullah Dastagir, the Taliban’s shadow governor for Badghis, was killed in an airstrike along with several aides and fighters. Coalition and Afghan forces battled the Taliban throughout 2008 and early 2009 but have been unable to dislodge them from strongholds in the two districts.
An al Qaeda affiliate also operates in Badghis
The al Qaeda-linked Turkistan Islamic Party is also known to operate in Badghis province. In January 2010, a US airstrike in the village of Khatawaran in Balamurghab killed 13 Uighurs and two Turkish members of the Turkistan Islamic Party.
The Turkistan Islamic Party, which is also known as the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party or Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, operates primarily in China’s western province of Xinjiang as well as in the Central Asian republics. The group seeks to establish an Islamic state in the region. The Turkistan Islamic Party has training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan and is known to operate in both countries.
The Turkistan Islamic Party has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations, the United States, China, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan.
Abdul Haq al Turkistani, the former leader of the Turkistan Islamic Party, was closely linked to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Haq, who is also known as Maimaitiming Maimaiti, became the leader of the terror group in late 2003 after Hassan Mahsum, the group’s previous leader, was killed in Waziristan, Pakistan. Haq was appointed a member of al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis, or executive council, in 2005, according to the US Treasury Department, which designated him as a global terrorist in April 2009. The United Nations also designated Haq as a terrorist leader.
Haq was killed in a US Predator airstrike in North Waziristan on Feb. 15, 2010.