ISAF recaptures escaped Taliban convict
Afghan and Coalition forces recaptured Commander Wali Mohammad, along with four of his associates, during a combined raid in the Nahr-e-Saraj (Gereshk) district of southern Helmand province on Nov. 23.
According to an International Security Assistance Force press statement, the combined force received intelligence that Wali Mohammad was returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan after several years in hiding. Mohammad, who had escaped from the Sarpoza prison complex in Kandahar province during a complex insurgent attack against the prison in 2008, is responsible for numerous suicide and spectacular attacks that killed multiple civilians in southern Afghanistan, according to ISAF. Commander Mohammad is reportedly close to "the Taliban's Chief of the Rahbari Shura and the direct-subordinate of high-level military leaders of the insurgent network." This is likely a reference to the Taliban's senior military commander for their "southern-zone," Mullah Abdul Qayum Zakir, who is a former Gitmo detainee, or the senior Taliban political council leader, Mullah Akhtar Mohammed Mansour.
ISAF later told The Long War Journal that Wali Mohammad was in communication with Mansour and Zakir, and considers Mansour the "Chief of the Rahbari Shura."
Senior military leaders within the Taliban military council likely sent Wali Mohammad into Afghanistan to increase insurgent military attacks throughout the winter and to help counter an ongoing Afghan and US operation that is clearing the vital roadway (Route 611) between Sangin and Kajaki districts in northern Helmand. Afghan forces and US Marines killed over 21 insurgents during initial phases of the operation in mid-October, according to provincial authorities who spoke with Pajhwok News. The Taliban, however, succeeded in killing the former district police chief of Nahr-e-Saraj on Nov. 7. Colonel Saifullah Rashidi, who had recently transferred from Nahr-e-Saraj to Garmsir district, died instantly when the police vehicle in which he and his two bodyguards were traveling struck a landmine.
Afghan and ISAF forces continue to pursue hundreds of Taliban fighters and commanders who escaped during two attacks, one in 2008 and another in 2011, against Sarpoza prison, an Afghan-run detention facility located on the outskirts of Kandahar City. In June 2008, some 1,100 prisoners, including 400 Taliban fighters, escaped during a complex assault against the prison. Three years later, on April 25, 2011, over 450 Taliban prisoners escaped during a major security breach of the prison. The following day, Afghan authorities claimed to have recaptured 65 of the 450 prisoners who escaped, shortly after the detention facility staff noticed the missing inmates. By April 30, the number climbed to 75 prisoners recaptured and two killed, including three of whom were captured by US forces in Zhari district.
On May 30, US and Afghan forces tracked and killed another Sarpoza escapee, Haji Amir, also known as Haji Agha, during an airstrike against his location in Zangabad village, Kandahar province. The Taliban vehemently denied the death of Haji Amir at the time.