ISAF captures Taliban liaison to Peshawar Shura

A combined Coalition and Afghan special operations team captured a senior Taliban leader in the Afghan north who served as a liaison to the Peshawar Shura, one of the Taliban’s four military councils.

The special operations force captured the Taliban leader, who was not named, and two associates during a raid in the Aliabad district in Kunduz province on May 16, according to an International Security Assistance Force press release that was issued today.

In addition to serving as a liaison to the Peshawar Shura, he “also served as a facilitator for the Nuristan Taliban shadow governor and organized the transportation of weapons, foreign fighters and suicide bombers for attacks throughout the region,” ISAF stated. ISAF often uses the term “foreign fighters” to describe al Qaeda and other terror groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which is also active in northern Afghanistan.

Dost Mohammed serves as the Taliban’s shadow governor for Nuristan. He is one of the most wanted Taliban commanders in Afghanistan, and has organized massed assaults on US bases in the province. In one such attack, in October 2009, on Camp Keating, Dost’s fighters, backed by al Qaeda and other foreign fighters, overran a portion of the base and killed nine US soldiers.

The Peshawar Regional Military Shura, one of the Afghan Taliban’s four major commands, directs activities in northern and northeastern Afghanistan. Sheikh Mohammed Aminullah is thought to currently lead the Peshawar Shura. Aminullah, who is also known as Fazeel-a-Tul Shaykh Abu Mohammed Ameen al Peshwari, replaced Abdul Latif Mansur sometime in early 2011.

Aminullah is closely tied to al Qaeda. According to the United Nations Sanctions Committee, which added Aminullah to its list in 2009, he runs the Ganj Madrassa, or religious school, which he has used to recruit and provide support for al Qaeda. Aminullah also furnished suicide vests to al Qaeda and Taliban suicide bombers, and paid the families of the terror groups’ so-called martyrs.

Three of the Taliban’s four regional councils are now run by leaders who are closely linked to al Qaeda [for more information on the Taliban’s Quetta and regional shuras, see LWJ report, The Afghan Taliban’s top leaders].

Siraj Haqqani, the son of Jalaluddin Haqqani and operational commander of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network, commands the Miramshah Regional Military Shura. Siraj directs activities in southeastern Afghanistan, including the provinces of Paktika, Paktia, Khost, Logar, and Wardak. The group has recently expanded its operations into the capital city, Kabul, and in Kandahar province. The Haqqanis shelter and support al Qaeda leaders and fighters from Haqqani bases across the border in the Miramshah area of North Waziristan, Pakistan.

Mullah Adbul Qayoum Zakir leads the Gerdi Jangal Regional Military Shura, which directs operations in Helmand and Nimroz provinces. Zakir was a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility before he was released to the Afghan government, which soon set him free. He quickly returned to the Taliban, taking control of the Mullah Dadullah Front, which is closely tied to al Qaeda. Zakir is also considered to be the Taliban’s top military commander.

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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