The US Treasury Department has added a Taliban commander who builds bombs and deploys suicide bombers against Coalition and Afghan forces to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
The Taliban commander, who was identified as Abdul Samad Achekzai, or Samad, is “a key official in the Taliban’s IED [improvised explosive device] supply network,” Treasury stated today in a press release announcing the designation.
“As recently as mid-2010,” Samad “was responsible for and tasked with IED component procurement and storage, detonator construction and IED training in support of Taliban fighters in western and southern Afghanistan,” Treasury said.
In addition to serving as a senior IED facilitator, manufacturer, and trainer, Samad also directed assassinations and suicide attacks. Treasury linked Samad to 11 suicide attacks against Afghan and Coalition forces in 2010 and 2011.
Samad is an Afghan national whose current address is in “Baluchistan Province, Pakistan,” Treasury said. The Taliban’s leadership is known to be based across the border in Pakistan. Many senior and midlevel Taliban leaders operate from Baluchistan, including in Quetta, the provincial capital, and in the border town of Chaman. Pakistan’s military and intelligence services have allowed the Taliban to operate from Quetta, Chaman, and other locations in Baluchistan, and they support Taliban operations in Afghanistan.
Despite 10 years of war in Afghanistan, Samad is the first Taliban commander to have been added to the US’s list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists for involvement in IED activities.
“This is the first sanctions action specifically targeting the Taliban’s IED manufacturer and support network,” Treasury said.
While not stated, Samad is likely working with the Mullah Dadullah Front, a radical Taliban subgroup closely linked to al Qaeda. 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. In the past, US military intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal that this subgroup has carried out suicide attacks in Kandahar and Helmand provinces.
In an attack in early January 2011 that has been linked to the Mullah Dadullah Front, a suicide bomber killed a senior police commander who was allied with General Abdul Raziq, then chief of the Afghan Border Police in Kandahar. Raziq’s deputy was among 17 policemen killed in the attack. Samad likely is implicated in this attack, as Treasury noted that he was involved in an attempt “to assassinate an Afghan Border Police commander” in early 2011.
The Mullah Dadullah Front was also responsible for several other suicide attacks against Afghan security and government officials in Kandahar last year, including the assassinations of Brigadier General Khan Mohammad Mujahid, Kandahar’s chief of police, in January; Abdul Latif, the deputy governor of Kandahar, also in January; Ghulam Haidar Hamidi, the mayor of Kandahar City, in July; and Hikmatullah Hikmat, the chief of Kandahar’s Ulema Council, also in July.
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.