US troops kill Taliban’s shadow governor for Badghis province

Mullah Dastagir, the former shadow governor of Badghis province.

US forces killed the shadow governor of Afghanistan’s northwestern province of Badghis and eight other Taliban leaders and fighters during an airstrike on a village near the border with Turkmenistan, according to a report from the US military.

Mullah Dastagir, the shadow governor of Badghis province, was killed in the Sunday night airstrike in the Balamurghab district along with his brother Mullah Nabi Jan, another known Taliban commander named Mawlawi Hayatullah, and five other Taliban fighters. US and Afghan Army forces called in the airstrike after surrounding Dastagir’s compound. Dastagir commanded more than 300 full-time Taliban fighters and another 300 part-time fighters.

Dastagir’s rise to power in Badghis was facilitated by an order issued last year by President Hamid Karzai. Dastagir was released from National Security Directorate custody after the Directorate received an order from Karzai in September 2008. Karzai was responding to the appeals of local tribal leaders in Badghis, who appear to have been coerced by the Taliban.

Dastagir was nominated as the shadow governor for Badghis by a Taliban shura in October 2008. The Taliban appoint a shadow government in the provinces when it is determined the Taliban presence is sufficient. He quickly exacted revenge for his capture with the deadly November ambush on an Afghan Army resupply column north of the Balamurghab district center. The attack, which was purportedly led by Dastagir, led to a three-hour battle that resulted in 13 Afghan Army soldiers killed, 11 soldiers wounded, and 16 others missing. Scores of vehicles were torched and destroyed and others were stolen by the Taliban raiders.

The Balamurghab district serves as the Taliban’s main operations hub for northwestern Afghanistan. Taliban commanders in Badghis claim to have 74 bases scattered throughout the Balamurghab district alone. Both Badghis and the neighboring district of Ghormach are under Taliban control. US, Spanish, and Afghan forces now maintain a presence in the Balamurghab district at the newly-built Forward Operating Base Columbus.

Fighting has escalated in Badghis since last year. In August 2008, Afghan soldiers killed 25 Taliban fighters during a 10-hour battle after being ambushed in the district of Muqur, which borders Iran. In September a Taliban spokesman and Afghan officials said that 50 Afghan soldiers had defected to the Taliban, taking their weapons with them. In October, two Taliban fighters were killed in an airstrike after they attacked a World Food Programme convoy in the Jawand district. In November, a US airstrike killed 15 Taliban fighters and seven civilians after the Taliban conducted an attack in the Ghormach district. In January 2009, 13 Taliban fighters and five civilians were killed after the Taliban attacked a tribal leader’s home in the Muqur district.

Factional and ethnic fighting has left a trail of destruction and bodies across Badghis since early January of this year when Taliban fighters attacked and killed some influential Tajik commanders formerly associated with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami. Tajik residents fought back on several occasions, and even killed Taliban commander Mullah Abdullah, a well- known leader in the district of Muqur. During January, Taliban fighters led by Dastagir stormed the remote district of Jawand and continued to occupy several villages on the outskirts of the district headquarters.

The killing of Dastagir will have immediate short-term implications for the security situation in Badghis. He was considered an able and effective commander and several of his senior leaders were killed alongside him.

Mullah Jamaloddin Mansoor, the deputy shadow governor of Badghis province who is likely to succeed Dastagir.

There are at least two separate Taliban factions operating in the province. The one faction was formerly led by Mullah Dastagir, the other faction by Mullah Jamaloddin Mansoor, who is associated with former regional Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Rahman Haqqani. Mullah Jamaloddin will likely replace Dastagir as the Taliban’s shadow governor for Badghis. Jamaloddin was appointed as the shadow deputy governor last October. Taliban commander Mullah Amoruddin will continue to run the district of Ghormach but it is unclear who will succeed Dastagir in Balamurghab.

For more information on Badghis province, see:

Badghis Province: Examining the Taliban’s Northwestern Campaign

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



  • Don Bistrow says:

    From AP:
    President Barack Obama’s chief spokesman said Monday that he will make a decision “within days, not weeks,” on how many additional troops to send to Afghanistan, and when.
    Obama has been widely believed likely to send fresh forces to the Afghan battle even as a wide review of U.S. strategy and goals there gets fully under way.
    Defense Secretary Robert Gates had told a Pentagon news conference last week that Obama “will have several options in front of him.” Gates suggested, as have other officials, that the ground commander in Afghanistan would eventually get all the forces he has asked for, but no more.
    Lt. Gen. David McKiernan wants more fighting forces and support troops such as helicopter crews to push back against the Taliban in Afghanistan’s increasingly dangerous south and eastern regions.
    An opponent of the “surge” of U.S. forces that is now credited with turning around the Iraq war, Obama has taken a cautious approach to the addition of forces in Afghanistan. He is expected to initially approve only part of a military request for as many as 30,000 forces this year, while military and civilian advisers revamp U.S. war goals.
    I am wondering if there is any other information if the troop level will go to 60,000 or if Obama will indeed backtrack with only 30,000.

  • Andrew R. says:

    You know, Don, I don’t doubt that Obama wants to try and turn things around in Afghanistan (early on in the campaign he said that he would be willing to go after the bad guys in Waziristan, a promise he’s kept), but I’m afraid that he’s pushing against a pretty strong political headwind, since his base is pretty strongly opposed to any action in Afghanistan that isn’t “get out now.”

  • plainslow says:

    From the last few attacks, it appears that we are getting them in bunches now. is that beacuse we are getting better intel, or are they becoming bolder?

  • David M says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 02/17/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  • Neo says:

    There may be a little better intel on the ground, but there should be a huge shift in resources to process that intelligence. The shift in intelligence resources from Iraq to Afghanistan may turn out to be even more important than the increase in troops. I imagine that places like Badghis province weren’t getting too much attention a year ago. I would hope by now there is a fairly sizable working group dedicated to the problem.
    Fighting smart is important. Hopefully we will be in a position to respond to developments on the ground in a much more timely fashion. We have let the enemy have relatively free reign over many areas of Afghanistan for too long. It’s imperative that we put them on the defensive.

  • Raven says:

    Astute observation on processing of ground truth data is equally or even more important than collecting them in the first place. I do think, this is where we are getting better as more resources become available. I also think some sane Pakistanis (Army or Civil) might have seen writing on the wall and more willing by providing specific help. Fall of Peshawar, question is when rather than if, given that Pak government is willing to negotiate with Taliban/AQ, should be sending alarms from Kabul to Delhi. Or do they already know what’s coming?

  • JusCruzn says:


  • Marc says:

    I would like to clarify something in this article. FOB Columbus is not the correct name for this Forward Operating Base. I understand the Coalition (Italians) may call it FOB Columbus but the true name is FOB Todd. There are even signs at Bala Murghab at FOB Todd with his name on it. I know this because I was there. SFC Todd was killed in Bala Murghab on 20 August 2008, hence that is why it is named after him. Please make this correction and stop calling it FOB Columbus.

  • mary todd says:

    Thank you for Marc, in bringing to the attention on the correct name of the FOB. Our son, SFC David James Todd, Jr., died (8-20-08) during this battle, when he come to the aid of 12 soldiers.


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