Taliban assassinate member of Afghan High Peace Council

The Taliban assassinated a member of the Afghan High Peace Council in a complex ambush in Helmand province today. The Taliban have now assassinated three senior members of the peace council since the end of the summer of 2011.

Malim Shah Wali, the head of the Afghan High Peace Council in Helmand, and two bodyguards were killed after the Taliban attacked his convoy as he traveled in the Gereshk district. The Taliban first detonated a roadside bomb, or IED, and then opened fire on Wali’s vehicle.

Wali was traveling to a security handover ceremony in Gereshk along with Masoud Bakhtawar, Helmand’s deputy provincial governor, when they come under attack. Bakhtawar survived the ambush.

Today’s attack took place just one day after the Taliban killed three British soldiers in an IED attack “whilst on a routine patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province,” the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense noted.

The attacks in Afghanistan took place as President Barack Obama said that the US is “winding down the war in Afghanistan, we’re having success defeating al Qaeda core, and we’ve kept the pressure up on all these transnational terrorist networks.”

Wali is the third senior member of the Afghan High Peace Council to have been assassinated by the Taliban in the last year and a half. In September 2011, a Taliban suicide bomber killed Burhanuddin Rabbani, the former head of the Afghan High Peace Council and an influential politician. The Taliban suicide bomber, who posed as a peace envoy, hid a bomb in his turban and detonated it as he hugged Rabbani in his home in Kabul.

In May 2012, the Taliban assassinated Arsala Rahmani, a senior member of the Afghan High Peace Council who had served as a deputy education minister during Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

Taliban’s Mullah Dadullah Front is the likely culprit

While no group has claimed credit for today’s assassination of Wali, the attack was likely executed by the Mullah Dadullah Front, a Taliban subgroup that operates in southern Afghanistan and is close to al Qaeda. The Mullah Dadullah Front claimed credit for the May 2012 assassination of Rahmani.

The Mullah Dadullah Front is a powerful wing of the Taliban in the south that has adopted al Qaeda’s tactics and ideology, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal in December 2010. The Mullah Dadullah Front 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 and co-leader of the Taliban’s Quetta Shura. In December 2010, Coalition and Afghan special operations troops captured a senior Mullah Dadullah Front financier and weapons facilitator.

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 Taliban maintain a command and control center in Chaman, but the Pakistani military and intelligence services have refused to move against the Taliban there.

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.

The Taliban subgroup has executed numerous complex attacks, suicide assaults, and assassinations in the region.

Zakir is also responsible for a purge of Taliban leaders who have conducted negotiations with the Afghan government, including Mohammad Ismail, the former Deputy Military Council Chairman for the Taliban’s Quetta Shura.


HPC official dead in Helmand explosion, Pajhwok Afghan News

Helmand high peace council chief killed in Taliban attack, Khaama Press

Helmand High Peace Council Chief Killed in Taliban Attack, TOLOnews

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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  • David says:

    What is the motive behind these attacks? It doesn’t make sense. The last time we were driven to the negotiating table by a war-weary population, the North Vietnamese took maximum advantage, by making outrageous demands, which were blamed on the US by our electorate, and then extracted maximum concessions in return for minimal return. The North Vietnamese then broke whatever commitments it had made.
    As infuriating as that is, THAT is the textbook way that one takes advantage of the situation we are in. It mystifies me that the Taliban doesn’t do the same. It suggests to me that there genuinely ARE elements of the Taliban who would be willing to negotiate, and that the hard-liners, like Zakir, see a danger in it. This suggests a significant weakness in the Taliban.
    Is this right? Are there factions willing to negotiate, and Zakir is keeping everyone in line?

  • Gerald says:

    Would be nice if the Afghans went after the Taliban leadership with the same vigor that the Talibs come after theirs. Its not like they are invisible. Or Bullet Proof.

  • mike merlo says:

    most unfortunate ‘event’ though good information. President Obama’s repeated mantra on a ‘hollowed out’ Al Qaeda has moved from being ‘frustratingly annoying’ to one of ‘insultingly negligent naivete.’

  • blert says:

    The ISI must see themselves as winning it all; for they’re foreclosing any option of a negotiated end.
    My puzzlement turns on how and who:
    How can Pakistan prosecute their campaigns in all directions, being broke as they are…?
    Who is going to pick up their tab…?
    Beijing has already said no. Yes, Islamabad has already gone pleading. However, the Pakistani reputation stinks.
    Further, the apparent need to have a defended naval route to the Mideast is starting to evaporate. China figures to have as much methane as America — once she starts fracking into her endless tight sands. Beijing’s taxi fleet is already powered by CNG… plus many private autos.
    A civil war within the oil lands, themselves, makes them a poor strategic bet to underpin the Chinese economy.

  • Jersey Dave says:

    Surprisingly, this may mean the Taliban does not want peace. We need to stop playing rinky dink and just bomb the helll out of their camps.
    They aren’t going to negotiate and attempting is a waste of time. The only way to have peace is to win.

  • LPHITECH says:

    Would be nice if the Afghans went once the Taleban leadership with an equivalent vigor that the Talibs come back once theirs. Its not like they’re invisible. Or Bullet Proof.


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