Coalition and Afghan forces targeted a Taliban leader who commands al Qaeda fighters that are based in Pakistan and carry out attacks in southern Afghanistan.
Combined Coalition and Afghan special operations forces attempted to capture the Taliban leader during a raid on a compound in Kandahar city on May 26. Two “suspected insurgents” were detained during the raid, the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release.
The Taliban commander “directs a core group of insurgent fighters augmented by al Qaeda associated foreign fighters assembled in Quetta, Pakistan,” ISAF stated.
The Taliban commander is associated with the Mullah Dadullah Mahaz, or Mullah Dadullah Front, a radical Taliban subgroup closely linked to al Qaeda, US military intelligence officials told The Long War Journal.
The Mullah Dadullah Front is a wing of the Taliban in the south that has adopted al Qaeda’s tactics and ideology, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal in December 2010. The Mullah Dadullah Front is led by Mullah Adbul Qayoum Zakir, the former Guantanamo Bay detainee who has since been promoted as the Taliban’s top military commander and co-leader of the Taliban’s Quetta Shura.
The radical Taliban wing is thought to be behind the series of recent suicide assaults and assassinations in Kandahar [see LWJ report, Suicide bomber assassinates Kandahar police chief].
The Pakistani city of Quetta, where the al Qaeda fighters operating in Kandahar and Zabul were organized, is a bastion for the Afghan Taliban and numerous Pakistani terror groups linked to al Qaeda, including the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. The Afghan Taliban’s leadership council, which is known as the Quetta Shura, is based in the provincial capital. Mullah Omar and other top Taliban commanders are known to shelter in Quetta, with the aid and support of Pakistan’s military and the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
On May 19, ISAF attempted to capture a Taliban commander who operates in Zabul and also directs al Qaeda fighters who are assembled in Quetta. On May 29, ISAF conducted a follow-up raid against the Taliban commander in the Shah Joy district in Zabul.
Al Qaeda operates in conjunction with the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and the Hizb-i-Islami Guldbuddin network throughout Afghanistan. Al Qaeda operatives often serve as embedded military trainers for Taliban field units and impart tactics and bomb-making skills to these forces. In some areas, such as in Nuristan and Kunar provinces, al Qaeda operatives fight together as small units [see LWJ report, Analysis: Al Qaeda maintains an extensive network in Afghanistan].