Coalition and Afghan special operations forces attempted to capture a member of the Taliban’s military council during a raid in the southern province of Kandahar yesterday.
The Taliban commander, who was not named, is “a current member” of the Quetta regional military shura, or council, the International Security Assistance Force said in a press release that announced the raid. The Quetta regional military shura is one of the Taliban’s four military commands in Pakistan that reports to the top council, which is called the Quetta Shura.
The senior Taliban leader formerly served as the shadow district governor for Zhari and is “closely associated with other Taliban senior leaders in the area.” He “has operational influence throughout central Kandahar province to include Kandahar City and Zhari, Dand and Panjwai districts providing command and strategic guidance over improvised explosive device and suicide operations.”
The Quetta regional military shura, like the other three regional military commands (Miramshah, Peshawar, and Gerdi Jangal), takes its name from the Pakistani city in which it is based. The Quetta regional military shura directs activities in southern and western Afghanistan, and is thought to be led by Hafez Majid.
The main Quetta Shura is co-led by Mullah Adbul Qayoum Zakir, the former Guantanamo Bay detainee who has since been promoted as the Taliban’s top military commander, and Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansur, who manages the administrative functions. Before his promotion to co-leader of the Quetta Shura, Zakir led the Gerdi Jangal regional military shura. He also leads the Mullah Dadullah Front, a Taliban faction closely linked to al Qaeda.
Coalition and Afghan special forces have heavily targeted the Taliban’s top leadership in Kandahar and neighboring Helmand province. Scores of mid- and senior-level leaders in Kandahar have been killed or captured over the past several months, including a “key” financier for the Mullah Dadullah Front; an unnamed senior commander who operated in Panjwai and was based out of the Pakistani city of Chaman; and another senior commander who is linked to Iraq’s Qods Force.
Numerous Taliban leaders operate from Chaman, which is across the border from the Afghan city of Spin Boldak in Kandahar. Pakistan’s military and intelligence services have allowed the Taliban to operate from Chaman and other locations, and they support Taliban operations in Afghanistan.
The special operations raids are carried out in support of ISAF and Afghan counterinsurgency efforts in Kandahar. Since the summer of 2010, ISAF and Afghan conventional forces have moved into the districts of Arghandab, Dand, Zhari, and Panjwai in an effort to deny the Taliban safe havens and relieve pressure on the city of Kandahar. Scores of new combat outposts now dot the region in an attempt to secure regions that have been under Taliban control for years.