ISAF captures al Qaeda, HIG commanders in east, kills Taliban commissioner in the north

ISAF and Afghan special operations teams had an especially busy and successful past two days, as the morning press briefing on raids nationwide demonstrates. The press release highlights the varied nature of the Afghan “insurgency” (for lack of a better word) and the involvement of multiple outside terror groups, all linked to al Qaeda.

First, the al Qaeda/Taliban commander targeted in Nangarhar (discussed here at Threat Matrix yesterday) was confirmed to have been captured:

ISAF today confirmed the capture of a Taliban leader during a security operation in Behsud district, Nangarhar province, April 11. The leader operated for al Qaeda and the Taliban, primarily in eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan. He assisted the insurgent networks with the acquisition, movement and employment of weapons and fighters in the Kunar region.

Second, as reported earlier at The Long War Journal, ISAF targeted a Haqqani Network/Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan commander in Paktika who “assists the networks with the acquisition, movement and employment [of] foreign fighters, including Iranians, and supplies to support Haqqani operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Third, Hizb-i-Islami’s commander and deputy commander for the Sabari district in Khost province were captured during a nighttime raid in that district.

A combined Afghan and coalition force captured two Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin leaders during a security operation in Sabari district, Khost province, yesterday. One leader is the overall Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin commander in the Sabari district while the second is his second-in-command.

Since February, ISAF has carried out dozens of raids against the HIG network in Sabari district (too many to list here). The persistence has paid off. Sabari is also a stronghold of the Haqqani Network, which clearly is allowing HIG to operate on Haqqani turf. In the past, the Haqqani Network is known to have operated a forward command and control center in Sabari.

Fourth, ISAF killed 10 Taliban fighters in a Taliban safe haven in Faryab province:

Afghan and coalition forces killed more than 10 Taliban insurgents and detained numerous others during a clearing of a Taliban safe haven in Ghormach district, Faryab province, March 11 and yesterday.

The operation was a deliberate clearance of a suspected Taliban safe haven in Tez Nawa village, which is associated with improvised explosive device activity and is a cache location. This area has historically been associated with the senior Taliban leader and Head of the Taliban Shura council for Ghormach.

ISAF also confirmed that its forces killed Mullah Alem, the former head of the Taliban Commission for Faryab:

ISAF today confirmed Mullah Alem was killed during a security operation in Bal Chiragh district, Faryab province, yesterday. Alem, the former head of the Taliban Commission for Faryab province, was the insurgent whose grenade killed three Afghan children and wounded several others during the operation.

In an April 3 email to ISAF, I inquired about the meaning of the Taliban Commission, and if its leader was linked to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (ISAF targeted the Faryab commission chief on April 2). ISAF’s response is below:

Question: Is “Head of Taliban Commission” the same as saying “Shadow Governor”?

Answer: No. A commission is a separate leadership organization with the Taliban network. It is made up of a governing body of leaders and it has a senior leader who sits as head of the commission.

Question: Does he have any connection to IMU?

Answer: Yes. He has indirect associations with the IMU.

Fifth, ISAF targeted the Kabul Attack Network, the terror alliance between the Haqqani Network, HIG, the Taliban, al Qaeda, and the Lashkar-e-Taiba:

In Wardak, an Afghan and coalition force detained several suspected Taliban insurgents while searching for a Taliban leader during a security operation in Sayyidabad district, yesterday. The leader is associated with the Kabul Attack Network operating between Kabul City, Sayyidabad and Wardak province.

Last, other Taliban commanders were targeted in Helmand, Kandahar, Wardak, and Logar provinces.

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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  • JT says:

    This sounds like very good news. The Spring fighting season is here and the ISAF appears to have the upper hand, continuing the off season focus with tangible results.
    Hope it continues, and the civilians start supporting the efforts in public, a la Iraq.

  • BullsEye says:

    Excellent news!!
    This trend has to continue for ISAF in order for the Taliban to stumble, collapse and degenerate into a disconnected assortment of cells operating largely blind of a more cohesive Taliban plan.

  • TimSln says:

    ISAF and Afghan Special Ops continuing to hit the enemy hard.
    “A coalition force killed several al-Qaida insurgents, including the suspected al-Qaida leader in Kunar province, with a precision airstrike in the Dangam District of Kunar, yesterday”
    Could the leader be the successor to Abu Ikhlas al Masri?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I already have an inquiry in to ISAF requesting info, including names and nationalities. We shall see.

  • Soccer says:

    Let’s hope it’s Qari Zia Rahman.
    Oh god please let it be him.

  • blert says:

    It’s Newspeak to call foreigners invading from a proximate nation ‘insurgents.’
    Which means that even COIN has morphed.
    While, to a Western ear, the Taliban talk like Afghanis — to the Afghanis the Taliban have a terrific accent; rather like a Texan standing out in Boston.
    The locals can’t stand the Taliban. Every time they show up business falls to pieces. As for religion: it’s like the hyper-Puritans have showed up. There’s no music, games or fun.
    The only reason that the locals tolerate the Taliban is raw fear. They rule with an iron fist.
    And the Taliban are not sui generis players. They have state sponsorship: Islamabad and KSA.
    If the indoctrination centers were unfunded by KSA the Talibs would fade. Yet such ‘education’ is ramped up year after year. There is blow-back: the average Pakistani blames the West and America for just about everything.
    Both Bush and Obama have no answer to the crazed insanity that is Islamabad political ‘logic.’ I suspect that’s what gave Holbrooke a heart attack. The Islamabad rationalization engine is a fright to behold.

  • Soccer says:

    The leader killed was known as Waqas, a Pakistani based Al Qaeda leader.

  • My2Cents says:

    I wonder if the Coalition has been holding off on taking down insurgent cells until the spring offense was about to start. If this keeps up returning fighters will not have much in the way of local logistical and intelligence support, and not enough time and too much vulnerability to rebuild it this year.


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