Afghan and Coalition forces have leveled another blow at the Taliban’s top leadership in the northern province of Baghlan.
A joint Afghan and Coalition force captured the Taliban’s newly appointed shadow governor of Baghlan during a May 31 raid in the Baghlan-i-Jadid district “after intelligence information revealed insurgent activity,” the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release today on its website.
The shadow governor of Baghlan, whose name was not provided by ISAF, was captured “as he prepared to leave for Pakistan.” One of his associates was killed and an undisclosed number were captured during the raid.
The joint Afghan-Coalition special operations forces have put pressure on the Taliban to quickly promote new leaders, ISAF said. “This capture marks the third time in as many weeks that the Taliban have had to replace named shadow governors for Baghlan province because of Coalition operations,” the press release stated.
The unnamed captured shadow governor spent only two days as the top Taliban leader for Baghlan. His predecessor, Mullah Rohullah, was killed in a Coalition airstrike on May 29. Rohullah was appointed the shadow governor of Baghlan in early May.
Background on the Taliban’s shadow government and the situation in the north
The Taliban establish shadow or parallel governments in the regions they control or where the Afghan government is weak. These shadow governments fill the void by dispensing sharia justice; mediating tribal and land disputes; collecting taxes; and recruiting, arming, and training fighters.
The Taliban have established shadow governments throughout Afghanistan, with provincial and militarily leaders appointed to command activities. In January 2009, the Taliban claimed to be in control of more than 70 percent of Afghanistan’s rural areas and to have established shadow governments in 31 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.
Over the past two years, the security situation in the northern provinces of Baghlan and neighboring Kunduz has deteriorated. The Taliban and allied terror groups maintain safe havens in Baghlan and Kunduz, and control large portions of the provinces. Two districts in Baghlan province – Baghlan-i-Jadid and Burka – are under the control of the Taliban. Of the seven districts in Kunduz province, only two are considered under government control; the rest of the districts – Chahara Dara, Dashti Archi, Ali Abab, Khan Abad, and Iman Sahib – are considered contested or under Taliban control, according to a map produced by Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry in the spring of 2009 [see LWJ report, “Afghan forces and Taliban clash in Kunduz,” and Threat Matrix report, “Afghanistan’s wild-wild North”].
The Taliban’s top leadership in the north has been hit hard over the past year, however. Afghan intelligence captured the shadow governor of Samangan province on May 20. Afghan officials claimed the shadow governor of Kunduz province was killed on April 26. Pakistani intelligence reportedly detained the shadow governors of Kunduz and Baghlan in February. And in September 2009, police detained the shadow governor of Bamyan province.
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