Afghan intel confirms death of senior Afghan Taliban leader, possibly 25 others

Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) Chief testified to the Afghan Senate today that Maluvi Mohammad Ismail, who until last year served as the Military Council Chairman for the Taliban’s Quetta Shura, had recently been executed by rival Taliban members along with 25 other “key rebel figures.” NDS chief Lieutenant General Rahmatullah Nabil additionally noted that the former head of the Taliban’s Recruitment Council, Ustad Yasir, a key ideologue for the Taliban movement, had been among those killed. And regional reports identified two other Afghan Taliban officials who had also been killed: Maulvi Shaheedkhel (Shahid Khel), allegedly the shadow governor of Laghman province, and a Taliban intelligence figure named Maulvi Ahmadullah Wror.

According to Nabil, Ismail and his supporters had been detained by Taliban fighters on the way to an airport in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, as they were preparing to fly to a meeting for peace talks with the Afghan government, according to Pajhwok Afghan News. And in fact, local media reported on April 18 that several high-ranking Taliban members, including Ismail, Mullah Ahad Agha, and Mullah Ghulam Hassan, had been seized near Quetta by Taliban gunmen in early April. During the Taliban regime, Mullah Ghulam Hassan reportedly served as the minister of intelligence and Mullah Ahad Agha served as a Taliban commander in Zabul province.

Numerous Afghan security officials speaking on condition of anonymity indicated that members of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) had killed Ismail and his fighters near Girdi Jangle, a sprawling village just across the border from Afghanistan’s Helmand province. Pakistani security officials responded negatively to the charges, denying ISI involvement and citing a lack of evidence that the killings even took place.

Taliban spokesman Zabibullah Mujahid also refuted claims that Ismail and other Taliban figures had been killed. Mujahid claimed the Afghan government was creating propaganda against the Taliban and that Ismail was “alive and well.” The Taliban are frequently known to deny the deaths of senior commanders until replacements are chosen. But a Taliban commander who reconciled with the Afghan government and now holds the position of chairman of the Kandahar council of clerics, Mullah Tor Jan, has confirmed that Ismail and his companions were killed near Quetta about a week ago.


Ustad Yasir.

Separately, a senior Taliban official speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed to Radio Azadi that Ustad Yasir had indeed died, but that details concerning his death could not be verified. The unnamed commander indicated that Yasir was last known to be alive while in the custody of the ISI.

Ismail, a senior Taliban commander who had previously served as the shadow governor for Zabul province, has a long history of corrupt behavior, including taking bribes, collecting taxes, and extortion. Last year, Ismail became the powerful Military Council Chairman for the Taliban’s Quetta Shura.

In August 2011, Ismail became entangled in a bloody rift with Mullah Baz Mohammad, a notorious Noorzai tribesmen and Taliban commander in Farah province. Following a funding dispute between Ismail and Baz Mohammad’s main financial supporter, Maulvi Habibullah Noorzai, Ismail kidnapped and detained Habibullah for insubordination. In a complicated twist, Baz Mohammad and his Noorzai Taliban lured Ismail into a trap and detained him until they could arrange a prisoner exchange for Habibullah. The humiliating event threatened to tear the Taliban military council apart, and the debacle seriously strained support given to the Taliban’s senior leadership by the prominent Noorzai tribe.

Today’s revelations of a serious Taliban purge follow reports from April 17 implying that Mullah Sharafuddin, the Taliban shadow governor for Zabul province, along with his aide Murad Khan Kamil and three others, was gunned down by unknown assassins in the Saro Nasar neighborhood of Quetta, Pakistan. Despite Taliban efforts to depict a unified and robust military infrastructure, the recent events that have come to light suggest that rifts, power-grabs, corruption, and mistrust may be eroding its organizational cohesiveness.

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  • Paul D says:

    The ISI dont want peace in Afghanistan unless their people are in charge!

  • Barry Larking says:

    Excellent reporting. Either the Taliban-I.S.I. are involved in a serious internal struggle or the I.S.A.F. and ‘darks arts’ counter intelligence people (so called black propaganda) are inspired. Enemy fraying round the edges? Obviously just the time to jack it in and come home …

  • Charles says:

    Its tough to kill off much of the Taliban leadership without seriously degrading their effectiveness.

    This news may be part of the reason that Obama , in Afghanistan was claiming–““Our goal is to destroy al-Qaida, and we are on a path to do exactly that,” Obama said in an unusual speech to America broadcast from an air base halfway around the world.”

  • Robert Allan says:

    Well this sounds like housekeeping, in deed. This is in keeping with their earlier threats. Is there anyone left that could still worked with ISAF after this? Wow, the Taliban filled with scumbags, no way!!

  • skeptic says:

    hmmm lets see if this is true or not. To me it sounds too good to be true and frankly I have a hard time believing Afghan Intel unless our boys confirm it too.

  • blert says:

    This is HUGE news.
    The implications are vast.
    ISI involvement is a given. That they felt compelled and able to conduct a purge-by-bullet at this time astounds.
    It’s the policy equivalent of running up the Jolly Roger.
    In a most immediate time frame Obama’s peace talk gambit is dead.
    Even in the out-years, who can speak for the Pastun?
    Obviously, the Punjabi dominated ISI believes that it will call all of the shots.
    In which case, nothing can possibly be resolved.
    The President just signed an agreement to agree — and, reversing himself, extended his military time-line out to 2024.
    It sounds like he’s abandoned nation-building and intends to maintain counter-terrorism.
    This may have been forced upon him by the ISI’s purge.
    Solving Afghanistan is now off the table — probably until until Pakistan has its own revolution. Looking at her economic plight — that might happen at any time.

  • Brushjumper says:

    AND our Failed President wants to negotiate with these losers.

  • mike merlo says:

    incredibly significant news

  • wallbangr says:

    Wow. The ISI picking off taliban factions on their way to the peace table? This seems just audacious enough to believe. The Paks are shameless. Do we really need any more evidence of their duplicity? And yet we continue to be held hostage by the beggar with the dagger. I’ve never been a big proponent of hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan. But the sooner we take away the only leverage the Paks have over us, the sooner they are going to have to start fighting off the ferral dogs they’ve been feeding.

  • Devin Leonard says:

    My guess is there was ISI involvement with this along with obvious Taliban involvement. Look, the Taliban doesen’t want peace, so we shouldn’t be negotiating with the Quetta Shura…we should be decimating it!

  • Charles says:

    The humiliating event threatened to tear the Taliban military council apart, and the debacle seriously strained support given to the Taliban’s senior leadership by the prominent Noorzai tribe.
    So will the death of much of the Taliban leadership further alienate the Noorzai tribe?
    Can the Taliban operate without support from the Noorzai tribe?

  • Charles says:

    The daily beast has some more details on the fallout between the Noori Tribe and the Taliban leadership.

    The killing is related to money flow.(kidnapping, extortion, heroin etc) Taliban wanted money to flow through the Shura council and the Noorzai tribe wanted money to flow through them. This is very similar to the situation in the Western anbar that tore apart sunni tribes from al queda.

    If the allies can exploit this as was done in the western anbar–then this war can be turned around fast because without the support of the Noorzai tribe the Taliban are nothing.

  • KaneKaizer says:

    A Taliban “civil war” is probably hoping for too much, but would still be awesome if it did happen.

  • Lakshmanan says:

    When is the U.S. going to act tough with Pakistan? For every sabotage, not just in Afghanistan but also in India, if ISI plays its dirty game, U.S. should make it clear that there will be more drones aimed at denigration of Pak army in the eyes of their own countrymen. Pak Army is giving ample signals they wll take every hit lying down and with murmur (if it is from U.S.). Now even Kayani is talking of CBMs with India. Such utterances by the head of rogue animals cannot even be imagined without american pressure. Only the U.S. can make the stupid Pak generals understand that it does not really matter to Pakistanis who actually controls Afghanistan. It means something to Pakistanis if they become a Germany in South Asia. Otherwise, their influence in Afghanistan is just a drain on their resources; serving only the ego of some day dreamers.


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