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.