‘Foreign fighter’ cell leader captured in central Afghanistan


Map of Afghanistan’s provinces. Click map to view larger image.

Afghan and Coalition forces captured the leader of “a cell of approximately 50 foreign fighters” during a raid in central Afghanistan yesterday.

The commander, who was not identified, was detained during a raid in the Maidan Shahr district in Wardak province, which borders Kabul.

“The target [of the raid] was wanted for leading a cell of approximately 50 foreign fighters, serving as a suicide-attack facilitator and leading small-arms and improvised explosive device attacks against ANSF and ISAF,” the International Security Assistance force stated in a press release. He was wanted by the Afghan government and is currently being interrogated by the National Directorate of Security.

ISAF would not provide the nationalities of the 50-man foreign fighter cell to The Long War Journal, but indicated they were all “Taliban.”

A US military intelligence official contacted by The Long War Journal said that Arab and Pakistani al Qaeda operatives, and possibly members from the Lashkar-e-Taiba, as well as members of the Haqqani Network who were from North Waziristan, belonged to the cell. Al Qaeda leaders are known to command forces in Afghanistan, while longtime fighters from other al Qaeda battlefields from across the Middle East and Central Asia often embed with Taliban forces and serve as expert trainers [see LWJ report, Analysis: Al Qaeda martyrdom tape shows nature and extent of terror group’s reach in Afghanistan].

Also, on Oct. 30, ISAF killed four Haqqani Network leaders during a firefight in Paktia province, including a commander involved in supporting operations in Kabul. Among the four commanders killed was Qari Amil, a “Haqqani Network senior leader responsible for suicide attacks as well as facilitating fighters from Pakistan into Khost province and Kabul.”

The Haqqani Network has made inroads in the central province of Wardak over the past several years, and has used the province to stage attacks in the capital of Kabul. The Haqqani Network makes up a big part of what is known by ISAF as the Kabul Attack Network.

The Kabul Attack Network is the Taliban group responsible for carrying out attacks in and around the Afghan capital. It is made up of fighters from the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, and cooperates with terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and al Qaeda. Top Afghan intelligence officials have linked the Kabul Attack Network to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate as well. The network’s tentacles extend outward from Kabul into the surrounding provinces of Logar, Wardak, Nangarhar, and Kapisa.

The Kabul Attack Network is led by Dawood (or Daud) and Taj Mir Jawad, military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal. Dawood is the Taliban’s shadow governor for Kabul, while Taj Mir Jawad is a top commander in the Haqqani Network. In the US military files recently released by Wikileaks, Taj Mir Jawad is identified as a top Haqqani Network leader.

ISAF and Afghan forces have been targeting the Kabul Attack Network over the past several months. On Aug. 26, combined forces captured Zia Ul Haq, a senior Taliban commander operating in Logar province who was responsible for the facilitation of foreign fighters and suicide bombers into Kabul. On Sept. 9, an ISAF strike killed Mur Mohammed, another senior commander involved in suicide and IED attacks in Kabul. And on Sept. 24, ISAF killed Qari Mansur, a senior commander and “prolific planner.” in an airstrike in a remote valley east of Kabul City.

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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  • James says:

    I say it’s high time to make plans (or at the very least contingency plans) to POUNCE on these thugs in Pakistan.
    I say that just as in Gulf War I, it’s time for the free and (at least) “civilized” world (with an emphasis on India) to band together to eliminate these murderous war criminal thugs (at least in Pakistan) once and for all.
    Such a move would also send a strong and clear message to those governments hosting their like-minded thugs; whether they be in Iran, or Syria, or Yemen, or wherever.

  • Rhyno327 says:

    James, as much as i would like US tanks to roll across that border its not gonna be. If the P-stani’s don’t cowboy up and do it, im sure it can be done in another way. Unless the “safe havens” continue to exist, there will be no “stable” A-stan. IF India crossed that same border, the use of nuclear weapons is pretty high. Keep squeezing them.

  • Villiger says:

    James, how come the US is suddenly waking up to see that India is “civilized” as you put it? Has the US done much listening of her over the years/decades?
    So far, and still today, the US has been very consistent in its strategic affair with Pakistan, who still has her hands in your pocket.
    And who do you classify as “these murderous war criminal thugs”? Would that include the past and present heads of the ISI? Their supervisor the COAS? The (“elected”) President who by all accounts is corrupt to the hilt, that the US helped to return to Pakistan after negating a mass of legal cases.
    And what of the US’s complicity in all this? Or would you like to put it down to plain stupidity, consistently practised, over an extended period of six decades.
    Point is, what have you learnt, and where is the evidence today?

  • James says:

    Rhyno327, thank you for your input.
    However, it looks to me like P-stan has become what A-stan was just prior to the 9/11 attacks. Of course, I can only hope and pray that it’s not that bad, or at least not just yet, anyways.
    Unfortunately, it looks we may have chosen to be on the wrong side of the Durand Line from day one on this thing.
    India is a democracy. We here in the US, as well as Great Britian, have a lot more in common with India than P-stan by a long shot.
    To those who try to argue about Kashmir (allegedly being predominantly Muslim). No, Kashmir is a legitimate part of India, which is predominantly Hindu. We have no business interfering in India’s internal affairs.
    I sincerely believe that the “KEY” to our success in Afghanistan is none other than India and always has been since day one.
    Someone should remind those thugs in ISI what happened to (what used to be called) East Pakistan (now called Bangladesh).

  • Charu says:

    Regretfully, India is a soft state, more like Europe than the US. When provoked sufficiently, it might swat at Pakistan, but there is no will to inflict pain or respond aggressively like the US. Both Europe and India sit on their hands while criticizing the US for taking action. The US, on the other hand, blunders into wasteful wars (Iraq) and ignorantly aids the enemy (Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia). Somewhere in-between would do the world good.

  • James says:

    Thank you villager for your insight.
    I myself have never considered India to be uncivilized.
    Most likely the mass majority of Americans are (what I will say) ALOOF about India.
    I haven’t been around for six decades, but I will admit that during the past decade it sure has been sheer stupidity (concerning our erroneous siding with Pakistan).
    Concerning your last statement, of course, I’m just one man. Hopefully, with the right people, and if we pull the right strings, this erroneous foreign policy will change.
    For instance, concerning a lot of these officials over here that want to cut and run from Afghanistan, nobody seems to have thought out what effects that would have on the situation between India and Pakistan.
    Not only could it possibly lead to a “Killing Fields II” in Afghanistan, but it could also precipitate a major war (and possibly a NUCLEAR WAR) between India and Pakistan.
    We’d not only be abandoning the good Afghans to the terrorists, we’d also be abandoning India by forcing it to fend for itself against them.

  • Villiger says:

    James, thank you for your response. in particular, i appreciate and share your concerns about a nuclear holocaust in the region which is a real possibility. This makes this Great Game a far more serious thing than by-and-large the US and its allies admit to at least publicly. AQ and their allies are a flea circus in comparison to this threat which again emanates from the US supported state of Pakistan. I have yet to hear a senior US Govt representative emphatically call this threat from Pakistan a la WMD in Iraq, which we all know turned out to be a can of Baygon cockroach spray hidden in Saddam’s palace bathroom.
    How at the same time the US political machine can go on dumping billions upon billions of dollars on Pakistan defeats me. I mean have you heard the US at any point of time take the Pakistani nuclear case to the UN?
    Therefore i call this whole US approach utter hypocrisy. Worse, when one sees Hillary and Qureshi hugging and kissing each other after another “strategic-dialogue” date, one can only observe that America is nearly as pathetic as its loose-cannon ally Pakistan. And that Pakistan is showing up the “super-power” to be in actual fact impotent. That conclusion is not inconsistent with the US’s achievement, or lack of it, in the last 9 years in AfPak.
    (Charu,so much for the US’s “will to inflict pain or respond aggressively”. I am careful not to get caught-up in all this macho imagery. Like a good CEO, i prefer to look at hard results and the bottom-line. American corporations discovered decades ago
    that working hard was simply not good enough. You had to work smart too.)
    Also when you say, “Someone should remind those thugs in ISI what happened to (what used to be called) East Pakistan (now called Bangladesh).”, may i add that someone should remind the US also of its aid-and-abet role in that fiasco. And that goes back to 1971! Beware the risk of glossing over that lesson.
    May i ask a Dylanesque question? How many times do you have to grope in the dark before you can see the light? Pakistan is more than a failed state. It is a failed experiment despite Uncle Sam’s love, money and support for his Islamic concubine.
    As for India, she could easily say you have made your bed now you lie on it. I don’t speak for her but i can say America is going to have to be a lot less arrogant than it has been in the past.
    And on culture, its not the can’t pls everyone all of the time maxim that counts. Its more that one man’s meat is another man’s poison. So (a) you’re going to have to educate yourself as to what those poisons are, and then (b) ensure you don’t shove them into another’s face.


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