Senior Taliban commander based in Pakistan detained in Kandahar

During a raid in Kandahar yesterday, Afghan and Coalition special operations forces captured a key Taliban leader who is based in a Pakistani border city.

The Taliban commander, who was not named, operates from the Pakistani city of Chaman in Baluchistan province, and “facilitated weapons, improvised explosive device components, training and bed-down locations for Taliban leadership,” according to an International Security Assistance Force press release.

“He is based in Chaman, but runs his operations out of Panjwai,” a district in Kandahar that is the birthplace to the Taliban, an ISAF public affairs official told The Long War Journal.

Afghan and Coalition forces “tracked the targeted individual traveling in a vehicle southeast of the city of Kandahar,” surrounded his vehicle, and detained him without firing a shot.

Chaman is a Taliban stronghold in Pakistan

The Taliban maintain a strong presence along the border regions in Baluchistan. The Movement of the Taliban in Baluchistan is a shadowy organization of which little is publicly known. The group supports operations against Afghan and Coalition forces, and operates without any opposition from the Pakistani military or government.

The Movement of the Taliban in Baluchistan and allied groups have stepped up attacks against NATO convoys near the Baluchistan cities of Kuzdar, Kalat, Mastung, and Mach, all along the road to Quetta before passing through the Chaman border crossing. Attacks are reported on a near-daily basis.

The Taliban maintain a strong presence in Chaman, according to information obtained by The Long War Journal. The Taliban’s shadow government for Kandahar province is run out of Chaman.

Senior Taliban leaders Mullah Rahmatullah, Abdul Qayoum Zakir, Mullah Naim Barich, and Akhtar Mohammed Mansour have been publicly named by the US military as directing Afghan operations from Pakistan.

“The [Kandahar] district Taliban leaders rarely come into Afghanistan because NATO has been successful in tracking and killing them in country,” according to an expert on the Taliban’s operations in the southern province.

Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul, the Taliban’s former operational commander for southern Afghanistan who is also known as Mullah Abdul Zakir, operated a forward command center in the Chaman region, US military intelligence officials told The Long War Journal. Zakir is a former detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. He was released in December 2007, and quickly rose in the ranks of the Taliban. This spring, he was designated as one of two Taliban commanders to replace Mullah Baradar, Mullah Omar’s former deputy and the second in command of the Taliban who was put into protective custody by Pakistan’s intelligence service earlier this year. Zakir now commands all military operations in Afghanistan.

Zakir and other Taliban leaders operate from Chaman, as the Pakistani location shields them from US and NATO operations, officials said.

Zakir and other Taliban leaders are “untouchable in Pakistan,” one official told The Long War Journal last fall, noting that the covert US Predator air campaign is limited to Pakistan’s northwest. “Right now we’re not striking in Baluchistan, and Pakistan won’t move against them [the Taliban] there.”

The Taliban based their shura majlis, or executive council, in nearby Quetta, according to US, British, and Afghan officials, but moved it to Karachi last fall after the US hinted it might conduct airstrikes in and around the city. The Pakistani government denies that the Afghan Taliban are based in Quetta or Karachi.

Map of the Chaman-Quetta-Kandahar region:

View Larger Map

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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  • paul says:

    Special ops are needed in Chaman and Quetta as we cant rely on our pak allies?

  • Kemal says:

    Detained = Protective custody to ward off increasingly close drone strikes. The Paks think this guy is a valuable ally and want to keep him safe.

  • CPT KatVader says:

    Kemal – If this guy was detained in Kandahar (Afghanistan) I doubt the Paks will have any further opportunity to “keep him safe” or even comfortable.

  • AShahid says:

    Please be H.M. Oh please oh please oh please.

  • kp says:

    @AShahid: One person it’s not going to be is HM.

    The report says the captive is “based in Chaman”. Chaman is the capitol of Abdullah District in Balochistan (Pakistan) and just across the border from Spin Boldak in AFG.

    HM is from (and the Mehsud tribe lives in) North Waziristan. A long way to the north.

    @Kemal: He was captured in AFG. As it says in the opening paragraph of the report.

  • AShahid says:

    Not hakimullah. Different HM. Think kandahar.

  • Farooq says:

    Yes, you are right. He was captured in AFG

  • kp says:

    @AShahid: Who are you thinking about?


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