Tora Bora Military Front commander speaks at funeral of former Gitmo detainee


The leader of a dangerous Taliban group that operates in eastern Afghanistan spoke at the funeral of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who died last week after exercising at the detention facility.

Anwar ul Haq Mujahid, the commander of the Tora Bora Military Front, a Taliban subgroup based in Nangarhar province, spoke yesterday at the funeral of Awal Gul, who was detained by US forces in 2002 and died at Guantanamo Bay on Feb. 1. Gul was a Taliban commander in Nangarhar province who had allegedly been entrusted by Osama bin Laden with $100,000 to aid al Qaeda operatives fleeing Afghanistan to Pakistan in late 2001 [see LWJ report, Former Taliban commander dies at Gitmo]. Gul also "associated with" bin Laden on three occasions, according to declassified documents produced at Guantanamo.

Mujahid read a statement at Gul's funeral, The New York Times reported. Thousands of people were said to be in attendance, "many chanting anti-American slogans and vowing revenge for what they said was his murder."

According to the Voice of Jihad, the Taliban's propaganda arm which publishes press releases in English, an official statement was issued.

At the funeral, a "statement of the of the Islamic Emirate was read out to the large gathering of the attendees in which the commander Awal Gul was referred to as a courageous martyr and that the retribution for the martyrdom of Mulaim Awal Gul must be sought."

Mujahid is a prominent Taliban commander in the east. He is the son of Maulvi Mohammed Yunis Khalis, who was instrumental in welcoming Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan after al Qaeda was ejected from Sudan in 1996.

Pakistani intelligence officials are said to have detained Mujahid in Peshawar in June 2009, but it was rumored that he was released sometime last year. US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal said that Mujahid had not been imprisoned but merely placed into protective custody.

Taliban's treatment of Gul after his death refutes claims he "quit"

Despite numerous claims by Gul's lawyer, Matthew Dodge, that his client had quit the Taliban one year prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the US, the Taliban's treatment of Gul shows the group still viewed him as an active member.

The appearance of Mujahid at Gul's funeral, as well as the reading of an official statement from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, demonstrate that the Taliban considered him to have been within their ranks. In today's statement, the Taliban described Gul as being "a courageous martyr", indicating they believe he died while fighting for their cause. He was also described as "the renowned commander."

The Taliban also issued an official statement praising Gul, which was released on Feb. 5, just days after his death. In that statement, Gul was described as "the prominent Jihadi commander of Nangarhar province" and "the eminent commander" [see Threat Matrix report, Taliban mourn death of 'eminent commander' at Gitmo].

Karzai requests release of another Taliban official from Guantanamo

On Tuesday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai echoed the High Peace Council's request for the release of another Guantanamo detainee, Khairullah Khairkhwa. From 1999 until the fall of the Taliban in late 2001, Khairkhwa was the governor of Herat province. He was allegedly involved in drug trafficking, had ties to senior al Qaeda leaders, and admittedly set up security for meetings between the Taliban and Iran. [See LWJ reports: Afghan peace council requests release of Gitmo detainee, and Iran and the Taliban, allies against America.]

Karzai and the High Peace Council claim that Khairkhwa could take part in peace talks between the Taliban and America if he is released.

"If he wants to talk, we welcome him," Karzai said during a press conference, according to The New York Times. "We would talk to him, we would arrange his release."
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READER COMMENTS: "Tora Bora Military Front commander speaks at funeral of former Gitmo detainee"

Posted by Monte Miller at February 8, 2011 4:04 PM ET:

Who is Mathhew Dodge and why is he commenting on things he knows NOTHING about?

Posted by Mike. at February 8, 2011 6:06 PM ET:

Monte - The article says Dodge was Gul's lawyer. Dodge was apparently commenting in his client's interest as a lawyer would. Should be of no concern.

Posted by Jim at February 8, 2011 6:19 PM ET:

Wonder how much Karzai is being paid, or expects to receive, asking for the release of Khairkhwa. It certainly isn't being done so he can take part in peace talks.

Posted by Rosario at February 8, 2011 7:15 PM ET:

Keeping Gul under lock and key was the right call by someone - a "good job" to you, whoever you are. However, just giving back the body and allowing this public funeral was a either missed opportunity an air strike or a prisoner exchange.

Posted by Ranger at February 8, 2011 8:25 PM ET:

Seriously when are we gonna get gangster on them and hit their funerals with fuel-air bombs?

Posted by Jordan C. at February 8, 2011 9:04 PM ET:

Can we confirm that the body was in fact given back? If so, why wasn't a tracking device shoved up the dead Taliban's arse? Follow the rat to the funeral then wipe all attendees off the map with a couple precision guided missiles. Minimal risk of collateral damage, and at least one high profile target in attendance. Sounds like we missed a good opportunity.

Posted by JT at February 8, 2011 9:30 PM ET:

From what I've read, there have been hits on funerals. I give those making the decisions the benefit of the doubt. Surely there is a decision made based on the probability of HVT being there, intel gathered from those who do attend, etc.

This time, it was obviously determined that intel gathering was worth more than the negative press from a hit. Remember that HVTs are fair game but you need to know they are probably there. One of the very first cruise missiles to hit Iraq in the Gulf War was on Saddam's "presidential" palace. As a CNN guy said at the time, it wasn't to interrupt a dinner party.

One of these days, Omar, Z Man, and/or Osama will get theirs.

Posted by JT at February 8, 2011 9:33 PM ET:

We seem to be in a relative slowdown in drone strikes. Here's hoping that means that the number of legit targets is getting small.

Usually strikes are reported quickly. Here is an interesting report with virtually no detail from a Pakistan site:

http://www.geo.tv/2-8-2011/78122.htm

Posted by bill at February 9, 2011 1:31 AM ET:

We win by behaving to our standards, not theirs. I think FAM on a group of "citizens" would possibly be a propaganda bonanza for those in the Middle East who think the worst of us.

We pick them off and make them hide we dont need to slaughter 500 to get 5.

Posted by madashell59 at February 9, 2011 12:50 PM ET:

bill: Well said.

Posted by Steve at February 9, 2011 5:06 PM ET:

There are those who actually believe we do "slaughter 500 to get 5" and not only in the Middle East. Facts don't really matter to "those" people.

Posted by mint at February 10, 2011 10:56 AM ET:

Hey listen Karzai is not getting this guy out because he wants money, it's just he want new drug dealing partner for his brother.

Posted by Bungo at February 10, 2011 1:24 PM ET:

I don't know about you but I'm getting a little tired of hearing people say that we should just inject a "tracking chip" into someone so that we can then track him wherever he goes.

Such "tracking chips" are science fiction and simply do not exist so can we please stop pretending they do.

Any useful tracking device is basically a radio transmitter. Your cell phone is a very powerful and very sophisticated basic radio transmitter that at the end of the day can only transmit as far as the closest cell phone tower and only lasts as long as the battery charge can last which might be a couple of days at best. It would be quite difficult to hide such a large devise under the subjects skin and have him go through several airport security scans for a few days of questionably possible "tracking".

Actual "tracking chips" that really do exist are available for pets and children. These are similar to devices put on items in stores. Thay are NOT transmitters and have no real "range". They are meant to be "read" (that is, the identifying data that was originally loaded onto the chip) by a special hand-held reading device. Once read the veterinarian or police officer can then contact the owner that his lost terrier has been located and can be picked up.

That's it! There ain't no more! Move on to other ideas.

Posted by Ranger at February 11, 2011 12:43 AM ET:

Bill, I know, ur right.....just wishful thinking

Posted by Zeissa at February 11, 2011 10:50 AM ET:

Who cares if there's a HVT present? Burn them all like chickens in the roast.

The media will lash out, but get used to it eventually. It's a price that has to be paid up front, or expectations of civility will rise or stay the same (rising since WWI) rather than fall.

Posted by blert at February 11, 2011 4:44 PM ET:

Bungo...

The Taliban don't believe a word of what you've posted.

There are endless stories circulating in the FATA about targeting chips that are being used to pull missiles from the sky down upon the jihadis.

Google around.

The rumor is that these are next-generation RFIDs that can be read at quite some distance.

Further, the rumor is that the CIA is paying off locals to place them nearby AQ/ Taliban hot spots.

Considering the number of locals murdered by the fanatics -- it's easy to see why they'd be motivated.

----

More generally, America loves to invent new technology to solve a military problem. Just ask the U-boat fleet. We cracked them wide open and it was more than bravery.

Taliban accounts are now floating around WRT their losses. As you might guess, they are demoralized. Our smart weapons and all weather, night and day attacks are something they've never experienced before. It sucks to be a haji.

Posted by Villiger at February 12, 2011 10:56 AM ET:

Zeissa, why don't you try your brilliant tactic in your country, China first? That way it doesn't need to make the press/media at all huh?

Posted by noi that at February 17, 2011 3:38 AM ET:

Bill, I know, ur right.....just wishful thinking