Mullah Dadullah (right), the emir of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s branch in Bajaur. Photo from The Associated Press.
The head of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in the Bajaur tribal agency and his deputy were killed yesterday in a US airstrike in the remote Afghan province of Kunar.
Mullah Dadullah, who is also known as Maulana Mohammad Jamal, and his deputy, Shakir, were among 12 Taliban fighters killed in an airstrike in the Shigal wa Sheltan district in Kunar province, the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release.
Dadullah “was responsible for the movement of fighters and weapons, as well as attacks against Afghan and coalition forces,” ISAF stated.
Prior to announcing Dadullah’s death, the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command (IJC) told The Long War Journal that an airstrike took place “near the Pakistani border” in Kunar, and that 12 “armed insurgents” were killed.
The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has been operating along both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border, and has been responsible for numerous attacks on military and government targets in Kunar and Nuristan in Afghanistan, and in Bajaur, Mohmand, and Dir in Pakistan.
ISAF has been pounding al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders in Kunar over the past several months. Since the end of May, five al Qaeda leaders and two Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders have been killed in airstrikes in the Watahpur district in Kunar [see LWJ report, ISAF kills Taliban district governor, ‘dozens’ of fighters in Kunar airstrikes, for more details]. Three al Qaeda-linked Taliban commanders have been killed in airstrikes in Watahpur over the past week. One of those commanders killed in an airstrike in Watahpur was responsible for a recent suicide attack that killed three US soldiers and a USAID officer in Asadabad.
Dadullah was in the middle of an intra-Taliban feud, which began in 2010 when Faqir Mohammed, the group’s previous emir for Bajaur as well as the deputy emir for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, was accused by local Taliban leaders in Bajaur of failing to fight the Pakistani military during an offensive.
In December 2011, Dadullah lashed out at Faqir when the latter said he was conducting negotiations with the Pakistani military and government at the behest of the Taliban. Both Dadullah and Ihsanullah Ihsan, the group’s spokesman, rejected Faqir’s claim that he was negotiating with the approval of the Taliban, and said Dadullah was now in charge in Bajaur.
In March 2012, Ihsan said that Hakeemullah Mehsud, the overall emir for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, formally dismissed Faqir after a meeting of the group’s executive shura, or council. The move was controversial as Faqir is closely allied with Ayman al Zawahiri, the leader of al Qaeda. Faqir is known to have sheltered Zawahiri and other top al Qaeda leaders in Bajaur.
For more information on Faqir Mohammed, his feud with the Taliban, and Taliban activity in Bajaur, see LWJ report, Pakistani Taliban deputy Faqir Mohammad demoted.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.