Coalition and Afghan special operations forces killed two Taliban commanders who supported “foreign insurgents” from Pakistan. One of the leaders has been linked to the killing of 10 French soldiers in Kabul province in 2008.
The International Security Assistance Force confirmed that Mullah Hazrat, the Taliban’s shadow governor for Alisheng district in Laghman province, and Shakir, a deputy, were killed in “a precision airstrike” on Sept. 9 after the combined special operations team “positively identified a group of armed insurgents.”
“Mullah Hazrat is believed to have planned and directed the Aug. 18, 2008, ambush, 40 miles east of Kabul, which resulted in a two-day running battle between ISAF and Afghan security forces and more than 100 Taliban insurgents,” ISAF said in the press release announcing the Taliban commanders’ deaths. ISAF is referring to the ambush in Surobi in eastern Kabul province that resulted in the deaths of 10 French soldiers and 13 Taliban fighters, including a Pakistani national. US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal in 2009 that al Qaeda’s Lashkar-al-Zil, or Shadow Army, participated in the Surobi clash.
ISAF said that Hazrat was appointed as the district leader of Alisheng in Laghman province after the battle. In this capacity, Hazrat “ordered several attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in recent months, including the use of suicide bombers in Kabul,” and “coordinated the movement of foreign insurgents from Pakistan into the country.”
Hazrat is likely a member of the Kabul Attack Network, which is made up of fighters from the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, and cooperates with terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and al Qaeda. Top Afghan intelligence officials have linked the Kabul Attack Network to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate as well. The network’s tentacles extend outward from Kabul into the surrounding provinces of Kapisa, Logar, Wardak, Nangarhar, Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Ghazni, and Zabul, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal in 2010.
Shakir, the other Taliban commander killed in the recent airstrike, was described as “one of Mullah Hazrat’s associates” who was “responsible for several ambushes and attacks throughout western Laghman.” ISAF said that Shakir “was suspected of attempting to recruit foreign insurgents to rebuild his attack cell.”
Shakir may have been involved in the August 2010 ambush of an Afghan Army battalion in Badpakh in Laghman province. A combined Taliban and al Qaeda force blunted an Afghan Army military operation, which included an air assault, and forced the unit to withdraw from the battlefield. Thirteen Afghan Army soldiers were reported killed.
ISAF often uses the terms ‘foreign fighters’ and ‘foreign insurgents’ to describe members of al Qaeda and allied terror groups from outside Afghanistan. ISAF’s Joint Command Media Operations team told The Long War Journal that “Shakir and Mullah Hazrat recruited a mix of individuals (Afghan and Pakistani),” and said that they were “Taliban.”
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.