Kunar Operation as 2 Taliban leaders captured in Pakistan

U.S. forces attack a HVT in Kunar; two Taliban leaders confirmed captured in Pakistan; Mullah Dadullah speaks

mullah dadallah.jpg

Mullah Dadullah on Al Jazeera.

Just days after the announced capture of Taliban leader Mullah Obaidullah Akhund was arrested in Pakistan, U.S. and Afghan forces are said to be on a major offensive in Kunar province, one of the most violent in Afghanistan. The target is said to be a High Value Target, possibly Osama bin Laden or another senior al Qaeda leader. “According to eyewitnesses and local reporters in Kunar province, Coalition forces launched a fierce attack on a small enclave in the village of Mandaghel, approximately 17 miles from the border with Pakistan, on Friday afternoon,” ABC News’ The Blotter reported. “Warplanes pounded the positions; U.S. special forces and Afghan National Army soldiers moved in shortly afterwards.”

The joint U.S. and Afghan force is said to have struck at the compound of an “Islamic militant and suspected drug trafficker named Haji Aminullah.” Kunar province has long been an al Qaeda stronghold, notes The Blotter. The battle is said to be ongoing for the past 2 days.

Kunar also sits across the border from Bajaur agency in Pakistan, where Faqir Mohammed’s Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (or TNSM, which translates to the Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Sharia), the Pakistani Taliban rules and al Qaeda maintains a command and control center to direct operations into eastern and northern Afghanistan.

As the Kunar operation is underway, unnamed Pakistani sources are indicating that two additional Taliban commanders have been captured. Amir Khan Haqqani, the Taliban commander commander of Zabul province in Afghanistan, and Jaland Abdullah Sarhadi, who was released from Guantanamo Bay after three years in detention, were captured in the Gul Park Hotel in Quetta. This is the same location where Mullah Obaidullah was captured.

Pakistani sources are saying that “Mullah Obaidullah has been taken to the capital, Islamabad where a team of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials will assist in the interrogation process,” according to NBC News.

The Pakistani government has a long history of making high profile arrests and attacking Taliban and al Qaeda camps when foreign dignitaries are visiting or the pressure for the government to act is cranked up. NATO and Afghan military and political leaders have long said they know the location of Mullah Omar and other Taliban commanders, yet the Pakistani government has refused to act. Yet after a week of intense pressure for the U.S. government, three Taliban commanders suddenly appear.

While the intrigue inside Pakistan plays itself out and the battle occurs in eastern Afghanistan, Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban’s military commander, appeared on Al Jazeera television. The Taliban is sending fighters to Iraq. “Whenever there is a chance the Mujahideen travel to Iraq and the opposite is also true,” said Dadullah. “We have very strong relations with the Mujahideen in Iraq. The Mujahideen stay in Iraq for a month for example then they come here. We also share intelligence. Travel from and to Iraq is at a peak currently … if any mujahid wants to carry out an operation in Iraq he can travel.” This is the peak season as the winter weather makes fighting difficult in many of the mountainous regions of Afghanistan. Afghan fighters were recently killed and captured during the battle of Amiriya, Iraq.

Mullah Dadullah is currently operating in Pakistan, with the full support of Pakistan’s Inter Services Agency, according to Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad. Mr. Shahzad also states the Taliban has distanced itself from al Qaeda in order to obtain the support of the Pakistani state. Mullah Dadullah’s statements and the cooperation with al Qaeda in Iraq puts that theory to rest.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.

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11 Comments

  • Mark says:

    Wow, this would obviously be huge.
    It seems like our military has been allowed to go back on “offense” again in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • joe says:

    Both Akhund and haqqani are extremly big fish with a lot of power in both afghanistan and pakistan. I wonder what Pakistans game is with these two. If these two men were seriously captured by pakistan and do not have some kind of deal in place to be released soon then you can expect a great deal of violence to be coming pakistans way in the next few weeks. Akhund and Haqqani are not little fish that you can just feed the Americans. If this holds then good for us and potentially very bad for pakistan.

  • Tommy says:

    I dont think Pakistan is stupid enough to release them, especially with American eyes focused sharply on them now. I’m optimistic that this will hold.
    The article does say he US is helping with the interrogation…so that is promising. It would be diffcult for the Pakistanis not to act on intelligence gained from Obaidullah with American witnesses presenr. If this guy spills the beans on Omar, and other senior leaders and the CIA is there to witness the interrogation Pakistan will be forced to do something.
    About the major offensive in Kunar, im very excited about it. It is big news and I have a feeling its going to get bigger in the coming days. Although the article says its a possibility, I wouldn’t put my money on Bin Laden being the target. Why would he risk being in Afghanistan during the start of NATO’s major offensive against the Taliban and Al Qaeda?
    My prediction is it is either Hekmatyar or Zawahiri.

  • RTLM says:

    The Taliban Springe Offensive has been pre-empted.
    Good job.

  • pedestrian says:

    >The target is said to be a High Value Target, possibly Osama bin Laden or another senior
    >al-Qaeda leader.
    Osama bin Laden is unlikely to be in Afghanistan. He is just too coward to be in Afghanistan.

  • joe says:

    I wouldnt go so far as to say the spring offensive has been pre empted but this is definetly a big sign that pakistan might be finally taking the jihadist threat seriously inside theier borders. Whatever Cheney threatened Musharraf with must have been serious. Maybe he threatened to go hunting with him. Anyway I hope Pakistan keeps up these pleasant suprises.

  • Tommy says:

    LOL! Thats why I love Cheney. He knows how to lay the smackdown on people! He must’ve scared Pakistan enough.
    Hopefully, there will be more arrests in the coming days. I’d be shocked if nothing came out of Obaidullah’s arrest.

  • hamidreza says:

    Credit goes to Cheney. lol – Maybe he can take Prof. Juan Cole “self-styled expert on Iran” to hunting instead?
    It is now so very clear that the Pakistani intelligence service is beholden to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. When is Musharraf going to eliminate the Islamists in the Pakistani intelligence service? He knows exactly who they are and where to find them.

  • RJ says:

    I go to author Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer” for understanding of this mass movement and how it is structured. Almost 30 years ago America was labeled The Great Satan. There’s a long generation of Islamic peoples who have come to believe this, really believe this. Musharraf knows this too. He likes his life. The snake always bites the hand that feeds it! We need to capture–and if not, then kill as many of these snakes as possible…over there. This article is more good news than bad, for me.

  • Thanos says:

    Back in October there was a new AQAM group formed in Kunar, notably after the strange rumors of Bin Laden’s death, Zawahiri’s takeover, and other rumors of Bin Laden being paralyzed. This from Pak Trib:
    The purported spokesman said the new group would independently operate in the name of Jamat-ud-Da`awa Al-Salafia Wal Qitaal in the eastern parts of the country.
    In a telephonic call to Pajhwok`s correspondent, the spokesman said they had 90 fighters at the moment.
    “We are going to start armed resistance against foreign forces and the government,”

  • Kunar Operation as 2 Taliban leaders captured in Pakistan

    Courtesy of The Fourth Rail:
    U.S. forces attack a HVT in Kunar; two Taliban leaders confirmed captured in Pakistan; Mullah Dadullah speaks
    Just days after the announced capture of Taliban leader Mullah Obaidullah Akhund was arrested in Pakistan, U.S…

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