Coalition and Afghan security forces have captured a “key” financier for a little-known, radical wing of the Taliban known as the Mullah Dadullah Front, which is led by a former Guantanamo Bay detainee.
The Taliban financier, who was not identified, was captured along with an undisclosed number of fighters yesterday by a combined special operations force during a raid in the district of Kandahar in the province of the same name.
ISAF said the Taliban financier “worked directly for the Mullah Dadullah Lang Allegiance leader” and “was heavily involved in financing and the transferring of funds for Helmand province-based insurgents.”
The Mullah Dadullah Lang Allegiance is better known as the Mullah Dadullah Mahaz, or Mullah Dadullah Front. It is named after Mullah Dadullah Lang, a popular but brutal and effective commander, who was killed by British special forces in Helmand province in May 2007. Dadullah was responsible for embracing al Qaeda’s ideology of waging global jihad, and incorporated al Qaeda tactics, including the use of suicide bombers, on the battlefield.
The Mullah Dadullah Front operates largely in the southern Afghan provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, and Uruzgan, and is considered the most effective and dangerous Taliban group in the region. The group has been active in attempting to sabotage negotiations between the Afghan government and lower-level Taliban leaders and fighters in the south.
Although ISAF did not name the leader of the Mullah Dadullah Front, US military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal that it is led by none other than Mullah Adbul Qayoum Zakir, the former Guantanamo Bay detainee who has since been promoted as the Taliban’s top military commander. He is considered to be one of the most radical Taliban commanders and is closely allied with al Qaeda.
Zakir, who is also known as Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul, was released from US custody in December 2007, and was then promptly freed by the Afghan government [see LWJ report, The Taliban’s surge commander was Gitmo detainee]. Zakir immediately returned to the Taliban and quickly rose in the ranks. This spring, Zakir 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 the Pakistani border city of Chaman in Baluchistan, as the location shields them from US and NATO operations.
The spokesman for the Mullah Dadullah Front has been identified as Barialay Rahbarmal. In mid-October, Rahbarmal claimed that the Taliban had killed seven Afghan soldiers in the Marja area of Helmand province using a new type of hand grenade. Rahbarmal made the claim to Al Qalam, a jihadist website run by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed, a terror group that supports al Qaeda and is backed by Pakistan’s military and intelligence services.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.