The son of Mullah Haibatullah, the emir of the Afghan Taliban, killed himself in a suicide attack that targeted Afghan forces in the southern province of Helmand earlier this week.
Hafiz Abdul Rahman, Haibatullah’s son, “sacrificed himself for Allah” in Gereshk district in Helmand province, according to Abdulqahar Balkhi, a prominent Taliban supporter who is plugged into the Taliban’s propaganda network. Balkhi’s tweet, which included a photograph of Rahman, was retweeted by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, an official spokesman for the Taliban.
Balkhi also noted that the Taliban’s “Al Emarah Studio will soon be releasing video of Greshk #Helmand martyr attackers & operation,” and included an image from the video.
The Taliban has been battling Afghan forces in Gereshk. In a statement released on July 20 on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban claimed to have overrun “a large enemy military base and a key police station and 19 check posts” and killed three Afghan commanders.
It is unusual for the sons of leaders of jihadist groups to serve as suicide bombers, however the sons of senior leaders have served as military commanders and in other capacities.
Helmand province has become a stronghold for the Taliban since US forces began withdrawing from the province in 2013. The Taliban now controls six of the province’s 14 districts (Baghran, Dishu, Khanashin, Now Zad, Musa Qala, and Sangin) and contests another six, including the provincial capital (Lashkar Gah, Nahr-i-Sarraj, Kajaki, Nad Ali, Marjah, and Garmsir), according to data compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal. Nearly all of Helmand has been controlled or influenced/contested for well over a year.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.