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Apr 21st, 2011

The Dirty Dozen

A guide to twelve of AfPak’s most wanted insurgents

A suspected insurgent is detained in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. (Photo credit: Teru Kuwayama / via Newsweek / The Daily Beast)

Newsweek logo
April 10, 2011

As a new fighting season heats up in Afghanistan, here’s a quick guide to 12 of the most-hunted insurgent commanders on the front lines.


[The Taliban’s] senior leadership seems to be largely intact and determined to make the coming spring and summer as painful as possible for the coalition’s troops. The overall strategy for doing that is in the hands of a few top insurgent commanders, such as Abdul Qayyum Zakir, the former Guantánamo inmate who directs the Taliban’s combat operations; Sirajuddin Haqqani, who pledges loyalty to the Taliban’s supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, but runs his own fierce militia of in eastern Afghanistan and Kabul; and the notorious mujahedin warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who commands a third guerrilla force, smaller than the others but better organized, from his mountain redoubt along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Still, they don’t risk their lives by conducting the actual war on the ground. That’s left to a group of lesser-known lieutenants who include some of the insurgency’s most important and aggressive operatives. A brief who’s who:

Maulvi Hassan Rahmani

Maulvi Abdul Rauf Khadim

Maulvi Abdul Kabir

Mullah Abdul Razaq Akhund

Qari Baryal

Maulvi Ishmael

Maulvi Gul Mohammad

Sheik Dost Mohammad

Amir Khan Muttaqi

Hakimullah Mehsud

Mullah Noor (Toofan) Jamal

Hafiz Gul Bahadur

Click for thumbnail sketches of individual commanders


Related reports on this site

Taliban First Strike on U.S. Soil (May 8, 2010)

Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, above, may have sent Times Square bomb suspect Faisal Shahzad to stage his group’s first attack on the U.S. (Photo credit: Naseer Mehsud / AFP — Getty Images)

Times Square Taliban Link (May 7, 2010)

Image: File photo of Pakistan Taliban commander Hakimullah Mehsud with his arm around then-Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud
Militant commander Hakimullah Mehsud is seen with his arm around then-Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud during a news conference in South Waziristan in May 2008. Baitullah Mehsud reportedly died in a U.S. drone attack in August 2009. (Photo credit: Stringer — Pakistan / Reuters)

Taliban, Al-Qaida on the Move (April 22, 2010)

Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud speaks to reporters in Mamouzi, Pakistan, in 2008. (Photo credit: AFP — Getty Images / File)

CIA Bombing: Qaida Leader Killed (March 18, 2010)

Image: Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi
Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi killed seven CIA officers and contractors, a Jordanian intelligence officer, and a driver when he blew himself up at a CIA facility in Afghanistan, on Dec. 30, 2009. (Photo credit: IntelCenter via EPA / AP)

New Details in CIA Bombing (Jan. 10, 2010)


New video released of CIA bomber (MSNBC, Jan. 9, 2009) — New video released to Pakistani TV shows the Jordanian doctor who killed seven CIA employees in a suicide attack in Afghanistan saying all jihadists must attack U.S. targets. NBC’s Jim Maceda reports. Shown with bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi is Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud. (02:43)

Taliban Leader Vows Revenge (Oct. 5, 2009)

Image: New Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud
The purported new Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, left, with his comrade Waliur Rehman, front center, vow to strike back at Pakistan and the U.S. for the increasing number of drone attacks in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan. (Photo credit: Ishtiaq Mehsud / AP)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — April 21, 2010

Al-Qaida in Iraq Decapitated

Al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi (Image: Fox News)

One year ago today, I reported that the two top-ranking leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri, were killed in a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation on Sunday, April 18, 2010, in what Vice President Joe Biden called a “potentially devastating blow” to the terrorist operation.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — April 21, 2009

Christopher Hill Confirmed as Iraq Envoy

Image: Christopher Hill, President Barack Obama's nominee to be the next ambassador to Iraq.
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill
(Photo credit: Evan Vucci / AP)

Two years ago today, on April 21, 2009, I reported that the U.S. Senate confirmed President Barack Obama’s pick for U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill, after debate over whether he mismanaged international disarmament talks with North Korea. Meanwhile, suspected militants shelled Baghdad’s protected Green Zone in the first such bombardment in more than three months.

One Response to “The Taliban’s “Dirty Dozen””
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Al-Qaida’s No. 2 Leader Killed in Obama Drone Strike Says:

    […] The Taliban’s “Dirty Dozen” (April 21, 2011) […]

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