1 The Long War Journal: Brother of Taliban's military commission reported killed
Written by Bill Roggio on June 4, 2012 8:43 AM to 1 The Long War Journal
Available online at: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2012/06/brother_of_talibans.php
Afghan officials have claimed that a senior Taliban military commander in northern Helmand province who is also the brother of the emir of the military commission was killed during a raid late last week.
Mullah Abdul Salam Zakir was killed "as a result of special operation of the Afghan National Army and ISAF forces, which was conducted in the Kajaki district of Helmand province," the Helmand Governor Media Office told The Long War Journal. "Our all information is first confirmed by our security and intelligence resources before the press release."
Salam was killed by special operations forces during a raid in the northern district of Kajaki on June 1, the spokesman for Helmand's provincial police headquarters told Kandahar TV. The National Directorate of Security said that Salam and "25 loyalists" were killed in the operation, according to Pajhwok Afghan News.
The nternational Security Assistance Force Joint Command (IJC) would neither confirm nor deny Salam's death, however, and referred all inquiries to the Afghan government. "ISAF is aware of reports that Mullah Abdul Salam Zakir has been killed in Kajaki, but there are no ISAF operational reports available that confirm those reports," the IJC Media Operations told LWJ. ISAF has not issued any press releases on raids against the Taliban in Kajaki over the past week.
Salam is the brother of Mullah Adbul Qayoum 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. Mullah Adbul Qayoum 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. Shortly after his release, he returned to the Taliban and took control of the Mullah Dadullah Front, which is closely tied to al Qaeda. The Mullah Dadullah Front has conducted numerous suicide attacks, assassinations, and military attacks in southern Afghanistan, and even assassinated a senior member of the Afghan High Peace Council in Kabul in May.
Salam is a key Taliban commander in Helmand and directed operations in the three northern districts of Musa Qala, Kajaki, and Baghran, a senior US military intelligence official told LWJ. He is considered to be an effective military leader and has strong backing from the Quetta Shura military council because of his brother's position.
Salam is the second top Taliban leader operating in northern Helmand who has been killed or captured by ISAF and Afghan forces this year. On Jan. 9, special operations forces captured Mullah Abdul Bari, who served as the Taliban's shadow governor for the districts of Nad Ali, Musa Qala, Baghran, and Kajaki [see LWJ report, ISAF captures senior Taliban commander in Helmand].
ISAF and Afghan forces have been targeting the Taliban's top leadership and infrastructure in Kajaki and Baghran districts. Operation Eastern Storm was launched late last year as part of the effort to reduce the Taliban's grip in northern Helmand before ISAF forces begin their drawdown in September. More than 10,000 US troops are expected to leave southern Afghanistan by the end of the summer, and much of Helmand and neighboring Kandahar province will be transferred to Afghan control.