A former Guantanamo Bay detainee who serves as the head of the Afghan Taliban’s military commission has resigned his position due to “ill health.”
The Taliban announced the resignation of Mullah Adbul Qayoum Zakir in a statement that was released today on Voice of Jihad, the group’s official website.
Zakir “resigned from the burdensome duties of the Military Commission because to his prolonged battle with ill health,” the Taliban stated.
“The respected Zakir Sahib who carried out an admirable service during his time is a trustworthy, veteran and dependable leader inside the Islamic Emirate and his resignation was accepted by the leadership in an atmosphere of joy after reviewing his situation and due to his repeated requests,” the statement continued.
The Taliban went on to refute reports that Zakir served as Mullah Omar’s second-in-command.
Reports that Zakir had resigned first surfaced earlier this week in local news outlets such as the Afghan Islamic Press, a pro-Taliban news organization based in Peshawar.
Zakir is a former detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility who was transferred by the US in December 2007 to Afghan custody. He was quickly released by the Afghan government. Zakir, whose real name is Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul, soon rejoined the Taliban and took over operations in the strategic Afghan South.
The Taliban welcomed Zakir back into the fold, and he was appointed the leader of the Gerdi Jangal Regional Military Shura, a regional military command that oversees operations in Helmand and Nimroz provinces.
The Taliban designated Zakir as their “surge commander” in 2010; in this role, he was assigned the task of countering the Coalition and Afghan surge of forces and the change of strategy to deny the Taliban safe haven in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar. Zakir is considered to be one of the Afghan Taliban’s fiercest and most committed commanders. He is also one of several senior Taliban leaders who are closely linked to al Qaeda. [See LWJ reports, The Taliban’s surge commander was Gitmo detainee and Former Gitmo detainee leads top Taliban council, for more information on Zakir.]
Although Zakir has resigned as the Taliban’s military commander, he is still “a member of the Leadership Council of Islamic Emirate and is busy working in other important Jihadi works which are comparatively easier,” the Taliban said.