Taliban’s shadow governor for Badakhshan denies reports of his death

Qari-Fasihuddin-Badakhshan
Qari Fasehuddin (center, with finger raised), in an image released by Voice of Jihad.

The Taliban’s shadow governor for Badakhshan province, Qari Fasehuddin, released an audiotape to dispel the Afghan government’s claim that he was killed in a US airstrike in late last week. Fasihuddin is the second shadow governor to deny reports that he was killed in a US airstrike since the Taliban took control of Kunduz and several districts in the Afghan north.

The Ministry of Interior claimed on Oct. 2 that Fasehuddin was one of 40 Taliban fighters who were killed in an airstrike in the Baharak district in Badakhshan that same day. The Taliban massed in Baharak and overran the district center on Oct. 2.

The Taliban quickly responded to the Interior Ministry’s claim and released a Pashto-language interview with Fasehuddin on Voice of Jihad, its official propaganda website. The interview was clearly recorded after the Interior Ministry claimed Fasehuddin was killed.

After identifying himself, Fasehuddin also said that Wardoj district was also overrun. “The Mujahideen have gained considerable achievements on multiple fronts. They have launched operations in Wardoj District. The district has been conquered with little resistance,” he said. Wardoj district was confirmed to have been overrun by the Taliban on Oct. 1.

Fasehuddin then accused the Afghan government of manufacturing reports of success after suffering defeats.

“When the enemy is defeated, it launches such baseless propaganda to increase the morale of its soldiers who have been defeated and lost their morale,” Fasehuddin claimed.

Fasehuddin, who is reportedly around 30 years old, commands a force of nearly 1,000 fighters who are based in seven of Badakhshan’s districts, according to Afghan officials interviewed by The Washington Post earlier this year. Fasehuddin was targeted by Coalition forces during a combined operation codenamed Operation Hindu Kush in September 2013, but he escaped the dragnet despite his residence being raided by Coalition and Afghan security personnel.

The Badakhshan shadow governor was last seen in Taliban propaganda in May 2015, which depicted a series of attacks against Afghan security forces in the rugged and remote northeastern province. In that video, Fasehuddin was seen presiding over a “trial” of 22 Afghan captured security personnel.

The Afghan government has had a mixed record of reporting on the deaths of senior Taliban field commanders. Fasehuddin is the second shadow governor, or what the Taliban calls “Jihadi-in charge,” to have been wrongly reported dead in the past week. On Sept. 28, the National Directorate of Intelligence said that Mullah Abdul Salam, the Taliban’s shadow governor for the embattled Afghan province of Kunduz, a Lashkar-e-Taiba commander known as Hariz, and 15 fighters were killed in an airstrike in Kunduz. But on Sept. 30, the Taliban released a statement by Salam in which he refuted the reports of his death.

The Taliban have gone on a major offensive in the Afghan north over the past week. The the provincial capital of Kunduz was overrun on Sept. 28 and is still contested, although Afghan forces are said to have regained control of most of the city. The Taliban has seized 11 districts in five provinces (Wardoj, Baharak, and Khamab in Badakhshan; Khak-e-Safid in Farah; Khwaja Ghar, Yangi Qala, Ishkamish, and Bangi districts in Takhar; Khanabad and Qala-i-Zal in Kunduz; and Talaw Barfak in Baghlan), as well as the provincial capital of Kunduz in the span of one week.

The Taliban are thought to control or contest 63 of Afghanistan’s 398 districts throughout the country, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal. Many other districts are thought to be heavily influenced by the Taliban.

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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11 Comments

  • mike merlo says:

    In light of the Fact the death of Omar was kept secret by the Narco-Terrorist Criminal Organization known as the Afghan Taliban for over 2 years anything the Afghan Taliban says regarding the possible demise of any of their ‘people’ should be viewed with suspicion until facts & evidence beyond contestable surfaces

    • James says:

      I have to agree with you on this one too Mike.

      I want to see him holding up a current issue of the New York Toombs or Wall Street Urinal before I’ll believe that he’s still alive.

  • jay says:

    @Mike M.

    I agree that the Taliban’s claims should be taken with a grain of salt,
    but at the same time the Afghan security forces do not a have a stellar record of
    correctly reporting the deaths of Taliban commanders. Heck even the U.S.
    intel agencies often get it wrong.

    The Afghan Gov and military are run by very corrupt individuals.
    That doesn’t mean there aren’t any good people in them.
    it is a systemic and cultural issue embedded in the institutions.

    Look at how many billions that were wasted on projects or contracts
    that weer never completed, never used, or couldn’t be used because of shoddy work.

    • mike merlo says:

      @ jay says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more. I fault the USA a whole lot more than I fault the Taliban & the Afghan Government.

  • kimball says:

    Hi Mike, I like the Acronym NTCO

    After stumbling over this article and mixing it with the transportmafia, mil. police and politicans interest on both sides of southern and northern borders my optimism about an endgame fades. Fighting now is for Helmand and Badakshan with it’s nr.1 opium quality.
    Religion/ideologgy is necessary baggage.

    //www.newsweek.com/2013/06/12/talibans-new-role-afghanistans-drug-mafia-237524.html

    • mike merlo says:

      @ kimball says:

      “NTCO”, very cool

      Yeah I read that article a while back. Very depressing. This whole thing with opium/heroin circles right back to that pompous arrogant clueless clown Rumsfeld.

      • The Drug Culture says:

        “Afghan Gov and military are run by very corrupt individuals”
        “the transportmafia, mil. police and politicans interest on both sides of southern and northern borders”
        “that pompous arrogant clueless clown Rumsfeld”

        It doesn’t matter who is to blame on this, at the end of the day our worlds are about to be flooded with herion, the results of that are astronomic compompared to the money spent killing these pysco’s ….

        • mike merlo says:

          @ The Drug Culture

          if you take the time to scrutinize the data on Heroin you’ll ‘see’ that the USA & Europe are not as threatened as much as the Media & the ‘Sky Is Falling’ crowd seeks to frame it as so. Heroin Addict populations in ‘West’ have pretty much plateaued. The majority of the Heroin Addict growth has taken place in Communist China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan & other Nations not associated with the ‘West.’

  • drexel says:

    Lessons learned from 9/11: Don’t let terrorists assemble, have safe haven to plan attacks. Fast forward to post 9/11, The Fourth rail, BillRoggio.com, in real time watching the Anbar Awakening & drone strikes in Afghanistan, on top of it like no other site, incredible contributors to the blog! Observing the transformation of an almost lost war into a crushing defeat of Al Qaeda terrorists…Fast forward to the present…Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, ISIS, etc, etc, etc. The next chapter in my mind has the potential to be more devastating than what we want to think about. When you have well funded terrorist armies on the loose, let alone small groups of terrorists, the unimaginable is just around the corner. The Russian proxy war now puts gasoline vapors around the fuse of a stick of dynamite, next to a block of Semtex. It is going to take leadership that does not exist at this present moment to navigate around the icebergs looming in the waters ahead of us. Is this just my imagination?

    • mike merlo says:

      not only 9/11 but every other Insurgency/Rebellion/Guerrilla War etc., over the last 2 Centuries. Supposedly one the USA’s Military go to reading choices at this time is material on the Philippines with a heavy emphasis on the ‘early years.’

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis