This article in The New York Times would have you believe that the Mullah Dadullah Front is a newly created terror group that suddenly popped up in Afghanistan:
A new, more radical insurgent group has begun a campaign aimed at terrorizing both Afghan officials and moderate insurgents, according to Afghan officials.
While the Taliban publicly disavowed the new group, Afghan intelligence officials depicted it as a faction of the Taliban that is “behind the current campaign of psychological and terror attacks,” as one official put it.
Calling itself the Mullah Dadullah Front, after a notoriously bloodthirsty Taliban commander who was killed in 2007 in a joint operation, people claiming to represent the group have in recent days sent text messages and made telephone calls to numerous members of the Afghan Parliament, threatening them with suicide attacks if they vote to ratify the strategic partnership agreement between Afghanistan and the United States.
The Long War Journal first reported on the Mullah Dadullah Front on Dec. 4, 2010, when ISAF named the group when it targeted one of its financiers. We even identified the top leader of the Mullah Dadullah Front as well as the group’s spokesman:
The Mullah Dadullah Lang Allegiance is better known as the Mullah Dadullah Mahaz, or Mullah Dadullah Front. It is named after Mullah Dadullah Lang, a popular but brutal and effective commander, who was killed by British special forces in Helmand province in May 2007. Dadullah was responsible for embracing al Qaeda’s ideology of waging global jihad, and incorporated al Qaeda tactics, including the use of suicide bombers, on the battlefield.
The Mullah Dadullah Front operates largely in the southern Afghan provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, and Uruzgan, and is considered the most effective and dangerous Taliban group in the region. The group has been active in attempting to sabotage negotiations between the Afghan government and lower-level Taliban leaders and fighters in the south.
Although ISAF did not name the leader of the Mullah Dadullah Front, US military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal that it is led by none other than Mullah Adbul Qayoum Zakir, the former Guantanamo Bay detainee who has since been promoted as the Taliban’s top military commander. He is considered to be one of the most radical Taliban commanders and is closely allied with al Qaeda.
Zakir, who is also known as Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul, was released from US custody in December 2007, and was then promptly freed by the Afghan government [see LWJ report, The Taliban’s surge commander was Gitmo detainee]. Zakir immediately returned to the Taliban and quickly rose in the ranks. This spring, Zakir was designated as one of two Taliban commanders to replace Mullah Baradar, Mullah Omar’s former deputy and the second in command of the Taliban who was put into protective custody by Pakistan’s intelligence service earlier this year. Zakir now commands all military operations in Afghanistan.
Zakir and other Taliban leaders operate from the Pakistani border city of Chaman in Baluchistan, as the location shields them from US and NATO operations.
The spokesman for the Mullah Dadullah Front has been identified as Barialay Rahbarmal. In mid-October, Rahbarmal claimed that the Taliban had killed seven Afghan soldiers in the Marja area of Helmand province using a new type of hand grenade. Rahbarmal made the claim to Al Qalam, a jihadist website run by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed, a terror group that supports al Qaeda and is backed by Pakistan’s military and intelligence services.
Over the past 18 months, LWJ has documented multiple assassinations and suicide assaults in the south that have been linked to the Mullah Dadullah Front. Click here and here for a list of the articles on the Mullah Dadullah Front.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.