Former Taliban defense minister dies in Pakistani custody


Mullah Obaidullah Akhund. Photo from Voice of Jihad.

A former Taliban defense minister who was close to both Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden has died in Pakistani custody, according to a statement released today by the Taliban.

Mullah Obaidullah Akhund “passed away in a Pakistani prison” on March 5, 2010, according to a statement released by the Taliban on their website, Voice of Jihad. Obaidullah served as the minister of defense from September 1996 until the Taliban were unseated by US forces in December 2001, and as the “deputy of [the] Islamic Emirate” from December 2001 until January 2007, when he was taken into Pakistani custody.

“The honorable Mujahid was detained by the government of Pakistan on the 3rd of January 2007 in the province of Balouchistan while on a visit after which his whereabouts were unknown for a long period of time until recently, when his family received word that two years from today, on March the 5th 2010, the mentioned person passed away from heart complications while being held in a prison in the city of Karachi,” the Taliban statement said.

“To validate this distressing news, the family has attained trustworthy evidence which confirms his passing away however it is still not established if this distinguished personality of the Islamic Ummah and Afghanistan passed away due to heart complications or if he was martyred due to torture while being imprisoned,” the statement continued.

The Taliban said it would “hold the International Red Cross responsible” for failing to get word to the family of his death for nearly two years.

While serving as Minister of Defense during Taliban rule of Afghanistan from 1996-2001, Obaidullah permitted al Qaeda to establish military camps where fighters were trained to battle the Northern Alliance as well as conduct terrorist operations outside Afghanistan.

One of the most infamous of these camps was Al Farouq, a military camp run by a Saudi named Abdul Quduz, where hundreds of al Qaeda operatives trained, including four of the Sept. 11 hijackers. Another notorious camp was Darunta, actually a network of four camps, which included one run by al Qaeda chemical weapons and explosive expert Abu Khabab al Masri and another run by the Blind Sheikh’s son, Assadalah Abdul Rahman. Still another well-known terror camp was Khalden, a military camp run by al Qaeda leaders Ibn al Shaykh al Libi and Abu Zubaydah, where dozens of al Qaeda operatives received instruction, including three of the Sept. 11 hijackers. Rounding out the list of top al Qaeda training camps that were established in Afghanistan is Tarnak Farms, which also served as a home to Osama bin Laden.

After the fall of the Taliban regime, Obaidullah functioned as Mullah Omar’s second in command, and directed military operations against Coalition and Afghan forces. He also served as a member of the Taliban’s Shura Mujlis, or executive council. He was based in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan, a known haven for Taliban leaders and fighters.

The Pakistani military detained Obaidullah in early 2007 while then-Vice President Dick Cheney was visiting the country. Sometime before November 2007, Obaidullah was released along with several other Afghan and Pakistani Taliban leaders in exchange for over 200 Pakistani soldiers who had been captured in August 2007 by South Waziristan Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud.

The Pakistani military reportedly re-arrested Obaidullah in early 2008 while he was fundraising for the Taliban in Baluchistan. US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal that Obaidullah had not been imprisoned but was being held by the Pakistani military “in protective custody.”

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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  • mike merlo says:

    Another excellent example of just how ‘bass ackwards’ & Byzantine CENTCOM’s Theater of Operation(s) is.

  • Mr T says:

    The Taliban said it would “hold the International Red Cross responsible” for failing to get word to the family of his death for nearly two years.
    Yeah, they are really the leaders in prisoner treatment. The just shoot theirs in the back of the head or cut their head off after torture.
    This guy was captured, released and then taken into protective custody? All the while, continuing to conspire to kill people.

  • Devendra says:

    Good Riddance. He is with the “Hoories.”
    May be, just may be, Pakistan did some thing good if they expedited his meeting with Allah.

  • Eddie D. says:

    Boo Hoo Hoo now we need to get the rest of these murderers so I can Boo Hoo Hoo for them.

  • mark says:

    the pakistani got reid of him he new to much ABOUT THE PAKS WHERE NOT BORN 2 MIN S AGO

  • Andrew says:

    Can’t say that I’m upset.
    The world can be grateful to be rid of another monster.

  • David says:

    Did anyone see this? Former ISI chief claims Musharraf knew about Osama’s hideout, and that the house in Abottabad was specially built for him by an ISI officer, Brig. Ijaz Shah.

  • Qadeer Ahmed says:

    Pakistan’s military has been playing its part on its side of the border in fighting against militants in its north western region and has advised NATO and Afghanistan to do the same. Taliban’s was flourishing from Afghanistan to Pakistan and this is a big question to NATO and ISAF forces who is responsible for the scene, they did very poor performance in Afghanistan in terms of military, political and social uplift of the area. What they have done since last decade? Is there anything done in Afghanistan?.
    Pakistan is committed and has actively been conducting operations against the terrorists in its western region in particular North/ South Waziristan, but efforts on the other side of the border in Afghanistan, where the Taliban are flourishing and re-grouping to conduct counter – across the border – attacks on the Pakistani forces and its installations, are not satisfactory, as well as are not strategically supporting the fight against the extermination of such militant outfits.
    This is a great achievement from Pakistan who is contributing its part in war of terrorism.


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