Usami was a member of the Taliban Shura Majlis, Omar’s former deputy, former foreign minister, and operational commander in Uruzgan, Nimroz, Kandahar, Farah, Herat and Helmand; Taliban “boxed in” near Kandahar City
Coalition forces have killed a senior Taliban military and political leader in southern Afghanistan. Mullah Akhtar Usmani, along with two deputies, were killed in a Coalition airstrike in the restive province of Helmand on December 19th. Usami was killed on the Pakistani border while driving in a vehicle with his deputies. The Taliban have denied Usami was killed.
“Coalition spokesman in Kabul Colonel Tom Collins said Usmani was a senior member of the Taliban inner circle,” reports the Kuwaiti News Agency. In fact, Mullah Akhtar Usmani was a member of the Taliban’s Shura Majlis, or executive council, and the former foreign minister for the Taliban, The Globe and Mail’s Graeme Smith reported on November 27th.
Usami also was the “Taliban’s chief of military operations in the provinces of Uruzgan, Nimroz, Kandahar, Farah, Herat and Helmand and played a central role in facilitating operations involving Taliban, al Qaeda and a group led by Taliban leader Jalaluddin Haqqani.” notes KUNA. In the past, Mullah Akhtar Usmani personally vouched for the safety and whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar.
Helmand province is the scene of the British “truce” with with the Taliban in Musa Qala. British military leaders claim the deal was signed with the local district leaders and tribal elders, and praised the similarities to Pakistan’s Waziristan Accord, where Pakistan surrendered to the Taliban and al Qaeda. The Taliban have openly mocked NATO and President Karzai as the Musa Qala deal is viewed as a victory. The current governor of Helmand stated he will not support future appeasement of the Taliban. “I am not [for] pro-[Taliban] agreements such as in Musa Qala where there is no government control,” said Governor Assadullah Wafa.
East of Helmand province, NATO forces, led by the Canadians, believe they have a significant force of Taliban “boxed in… surrounding them, 360 degrees” in the small village of Howz-e Madad, This is a small village in the Panjwai distrct, about 25 miles west of Kandahar City. NATO launched Operation Falcon Summit two weeks ago, and recently reported over 50 Taliban were killed in an airstrike.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.