Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

Ex-Guantanamo Bay prisoner the next Afghan Taliban commander?

February 18, 2010
(An Afghan soldier speaks at a flag raising ceremony in Marjah)

(An Afghan soldier speaks at a flag-raising ceremony in Marjah)

It is a measure of the shadowy nature of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan that it is hard to come up with even a couple of names of senior figures who could possibly succeed  top commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Barader following his capture in a joint U.S.-Pakistan raid.

Such is the diffused leadership structure - more like a franchise down to the villages – that the only thing you can say for certain is that the Islamist movement is still led by the one-eyed Mullah Mohammad Omar, although according to reports  he hasn’t been seen even by his own followers in the past three years.

It’s a risky business then to hazard a guess as I wrote in this story, but one of the names that is doing the rounds of the security blogs/newspapers is that of Abdul Qayum Zakir, a Taliban fighter from the 1990s who has spent time in Guantanamo Bay. His is an interesting story. He surrendered to U.S. and Afghan forces in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif as the regime was collapsing in 2001.

He spent the next several years in custody, was transferred to Guantanamo around 2006, then to Afghanistan government custody in late 2007, and was eventually released.  It’s not clear why he was released but he lost no time in re-joining the insurgency. He quickly rose to take charge of the operations in the key provinces of Kandahar, Helmand and Uruzgan.

The Rand Corporation’s Seth Jones in  a profile of Zakir last year  said that American officials wouldn’t say why he was let go and wouldn’t release a photograph of him. In a memorandum prepared for his administrative review board at Guantanamo, Zakir apparently said he  ”felt it would be fine to wage jihad against Americans, Jews, or Israelis if they were invading his country.”

Now as the Marines move through Helmand in the biggest offensive yet, they will be looking for Zakir, the operational foe.  But then again it may not be him setting out the Taliban’s military strategy.

Singapore’s Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research said Mullah Mohammad Hassan, the shadow governor of Kandahar province, may well step into Barader’s shoes.  Very little is known about Hassan, except that he fought during the Soviet jihad in the 1980s.


terrorislam wants peace,,, a piece of your country that is,,,
and another piece,,, and another piece,,, and another piece,,,
until they have the world,,,

they are always going into some country and then saying they want another terrorislamic state,,, eally-happened/

stop them now before it is too late,,,

Posted by wrong at large | Report as abusive

I posted an essay on my Occasional Dissident web site arguing that Guantanamo detainees must be released inside the United States. “NIMBY-Necessarily In My Backyard” makes the point that we can better supervise them here than in, say, Afghanistan or Yemen. Moreover, those who would kill Americans can, as this story shows, find the allies and the means to do that in places like Afghanistan. Inside the US, they will have a tougher time, and, because we can watch them closely, we are likely to catch them in the planning stages, allowing us to charge them with conspiracy instead of, again as in this case, meeting them on a battlefield somewhere. Our policy of releasing detainees overseas puts the lives of our troops in jeopardy. We need to be brave enough to stop doing that.


Intense rivalries between Pushtuns and Punjabies inside ISI and the friction of Taliban leadership
Yauseen Roman
·        “On February 8, 2010, Mullah Barader was captured in a joint raid by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in either Baldia Town, Karachi, Pakistan, or at the Madarassa Khuddamul Quran (45 km NE of Karachi) during a morning raid. The White House did not confirm or deny the capture,” New York Times reported.
·        CNN quoted U.S. officials who said the capture could represent a “turning point” in the struggle with the Taliban. The presence of Taliban in Karachi is not unprecedented; previous reports have indicated that the city hosts a sizable network of Taliban militants, serves as a major source of funds, and may even be the location of Mullah Omar.
·        Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, has called the report of Baradar’s capture “propaganda” and said no joint operation between the ISI and the CIA took place. He stopped short of denying Baradar was in Pakistani custody, however.
·        “We are verifying all those we have arrested,” Malik told Dawn. If there is any big target, I will show the nation.”
·        “If the New York Times gives information, it is not a divine truth, it can be wrong,” Malik continued. The New York Times broke the story of Baradar’s capture.
If the Interior Minister of Pakistan, Rahman Malik doesn’t know about the detention of Taliban second in command, then one can understand, who is in charge of Pakistan, The ISI or President Zardari.
Two hypotheses
·        Karachi has the growing population, of Pushtuns, who has settled, there, in the last thirty years of Afghanistan’s conflict, reaches up to four millions. Had Mullah Barader sent there by the Pushtun command of ISI to organize the Taliban movement in Karachi, or he had wanted to cut off his relationships with Mullah Omer; because, he had felt the growing power of Pushtun, command of ISI, among the Taliban inside Afghanistan and Pakistan?
·        Is Pujab command of ISI, finally, realized that it loses the grip of power, in Pakistan to the Pushtuns, if doesn,t act swiftly by makimg deal with the Americans and Afghan’s government; because, Mullah Barader, at least, belongs to the same root as President Karzai is, the Durani root?  Then Punjab has played a very effective card in a country, Afghanistan, that tribal code is the highest morality badge of every Pushtun.
Punjabies understand the growing frustration of the United States and Afghan government on one side and the empowerment of the Pushtuns’ nationalism inside Pakistan on the other side. If they lose America, the economic crises will dismantle Pakistan institutions and will create chaos all over Pakistan, and the growing power of Pushtuns under the turban of Taliban will swallow the domination of Pujabies power, in Pakistan. Therefore, for Punjab, there is not any other alternative than to support the Afghan government initiative, the peace process with the ranks and files of Afghanistan’s Taliban, and the first order in the house was the detention of Mullah Barader, in Karachi, Pakistan.
Eventually, the Afghan government will send its warrant to the Pakistani government for the extradition of Mullah Barader. It might take months for the Afghan government to blue print the peace deal with Mullah Barader in Kabul, under a comprehensive amnesty for Afghan’s Taliban and the possibility of accommodation of Taliban leadership in Afghanistan institution. Perhaps, the post of, Afghanistan’s, senate leader  to Taliban is a signal of resignation for Sebghaatullah Mujadidi, the head of Afghanistan senate and could be nothing more than a wishful thinking for Afghan politicians in the circle of rumors.
Will Mullah Omer condemn the peace deal of Mullah Barader with the Afghan government? If he does, it will definitely marginalize the Pushtun command of ISI within Pakistan, and the billions of dollar will crush the invisible nationalism of Pushtun in Pakistan. A clear example of this big game was the drone of Mohammad Haqqani, just after the detention of Mullah Barader. And how long, the Pushtun command of, ISI will safeguard Jalal-ud-Dean Haqqani from the drone of CIA, is a change of heart for Gulbuddin Hykmatyar to join the Afghan peace initiative; because, the energy piplines of Bajawar and Mohmand agency will dry up, and Hykmatyar’s stampede marathon will reach to a conclusion. Does the Dewrand line will be the legitimate border line of Afghanistan and Pakistan? It belongs to the conviction of sixty five million Pushtuns in Afghanistan and Pushtunkhwa.


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