Taliban claims to have ‘thousands of fully armed martyrdom seekers’

The Afghan Taliban said it would give “top priority” to retaliate against government agencies involved in the execution of jihadist prisoners and claimed it has “thousands of fully armed martyrdom seekers” at its disposal who are “awaiting to take revenge.”

The Taliban issued the statement yesterday on its official website, Voice of Jihad, after the Afghan government executed six jihadists, including a member of al Qaeda, for various attacks in the country.

One of the jihadists executed yesterday by the Afghan government was Khan Agha, who was better known as Abdul Rahman, according to Khaama Press. Rahman was involved in the assassination of National Directorate of Security Deputy Director Dr. Abdullah Laghmani on Sept. 2, 2009. Laghmani was one of 23 Afghans killed in a suicide attack inside a mosque in the city of Mehtarlam, the capital of Laghman province. The NDS captured Rahman and three associates in December 2009, and was described as a Taliban commander in the province. Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders often are members of both groups.

The Afghan government has indicated that it would continue to execute members of the Taliban and allied groups. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid responded by threatening agencies involved in the executions.

“From now onwards, Allah willing, the Mujahideen shall make all enemy bodies involved in martyring Mujahideen inmates as their top priority during military planning,” Mujahid said. “They will not be allowed to breathe peacefully nor will they ever be able to feel security.”

“We have thousands of fully armed martyrdom seekers awaiting to take revenge, we shall never relinquish our turn,” Mujahid concluded.

While Mujahid’s claim that the Taliban has “thousands of martyrdom seekers” may be seen as boastful, the groups has conducted numerous attacks against Afghan and Coalition facilities using multiple suicide bombers and armed fighters over the past decade. The Taliban possesses the infrastructure to recruit, indoctrinate, train and deploy these suicide assault teams throughout Afghanistan.

Such attacks are commonplace in Afghanistan, and many often take place in the capital of Kabul. In one of the more complex attacks that employed “martyrdom seekers,” the Taliban assaulted Camp Bastion, a sprawling military base that was shared by US Marines and British troops and located in the middle of the Dashti Margo desert in Helmand province. On Sept. 14, 2012, a 15-man Taliban team penetrated the perimeter at the airbase, destroyed six USMC Harriers and damaged two more, and killed the squadron commander and a sergeant. Fourteen of the 15 members of the assault team were killed, while the last was wounded and captured.

The Taliban has given some clues about the organization of its martyrdom units. It has identified two key leaders of its “Suicide Groups.” Mullah Taj Mir Jawad has been described as the head of a “martyrdom-seekers battalion.” Jawad swore allegiance to Mullah Mansour in a video released by the group in September.

Qari Abdul Raouf Zakir, the “commander” of the Taliban’s “suicide groups,” also swore allegiance to Mullah Mansour in the same video as Jawad. Qari Zakir, who was designated as a terrorist by the State Department in November 2012, has long commanded the Haqqani Network’s suicide operations.

The Haqqani Network is an al Qaeda-linked Taliban subgroup that operates throughout Afghanistan and is based in Pakistan, where it is supported by Pakistan’s military and the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). Sirajuddin Haqqani, the operational commander of the Haqqani Network, serves as Mullah Mansour’s deputy and as the head of the Taliban’s military.

The Taliban has also promoted suicide teams in its propaganda. The Muaskar ul Fida, one of several suicide squads operating in Afghanistan, swore allegiance to the Taliban’s new emir in November 2015.

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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