1 The Long War Journal: ISAF captures senior Taliban commander in Helmand
Written by Bill Roggio on January 25, 2012 8:03 PM to 1 The Long War Journal
Available online at: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2012/01/isaf_captures_senior.php
In a raid earlier this month, International Security Assistance Force personnel captured a senior Taliban military commander who directed operations against NATO and Afghan forces in northern Helmand province.
Mullah Abdul Bari was captured by ISAF and Afghan special operations forces during a raid in Helmand's Kajaki district on Jan. 9, according to a report in Khaama Press and other Afghan news outlets. US military intelligence officials confirmed Bari's capture to The Long War Journal. ISAF and ISAF Joint Command (IJC) would neither confirm nor deny Bari's capture, however, and referred all inquiries to the Afghan government.
Bari served as the Taliban's shadow governor for the districts of Nad Ali, Musa Qala, Baghran, and Kajaki in northern Helmand province. According to Afghan Islamic Press, he was appointed to lead operations in the four districts by the Quetta Shura, the Taliban's top leadership council.
Prior to his capture, Bari served directly under Mullah Adbul Zakir, who is the overall military commander for the Taliban and also the leader of the Gerdi Jangal Regional Military Shura, which directs Taliban operations in Helmand and Nimroz provinces. Zakir was a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility before he was released to the Afghan government, which quickly set him free in early 2008. Zakir soon returned to the Taliban, taking control of the Mullah Dadullah Mahaz, which is closely tied to al Qaeda.
Bari is considered to be an important Taliban leader who was assigned to fight US Marines battling the Taliban in Kajaki as part of Operation Eastern Storm. Kajaki is one of the few remaining Taliban strongholds in Helmand province.
"His seniority and importance cannot be understated, especially in terms of his leadership over some of the most effective and dangerous IED cells in northern Helmand," a US official who closely tracks the Taliban told The Long War Journal.
"Although his network was strongest in Musa Qala, he increasingly focused his efforts on Kajaki and Baghran to help reshape and rebuild the insurgency following the blows received during Operation Eastern Storm, an operation targeting the Taliban military infrastructure in Kajaki and Baghran districts," the official continued.