Mullah Obaidullah, the Akhund (Pashto: ملا عبيدالله آخوند) (died March 5, 2010) was the Defence Minister under the Taliban government in Afghanistan and later became an insurgent commander during the Taliban insurgency against the new Afghan government and the US-led NATO forces. He was captured by Pakistani security forces in 2007 and died in 2010 of a heart disease inside a prison in Pakistan.
Mulla Obaidullah was born in the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan. Obaidullah Akhund became the Defense Minister of Afghanistan in the 1990s, and the second of three top deputies to Mullah Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban movement. Obaidullah was seen as the "number three" man in the Taliban. In late 2001 or early 2002, Obaidullah surrendered to the Afghan Northern Alliance troops, but was released as part of an amnesty. He was one of the main military leaders in 2003, and was named to the Mujahideen Shura Council. Abdul Latif Hakimi, who was captured by Pakistan in 2005, said that Obaidullah was one of two people with direct access to Mullah Omar, and that Obaidullah had personally ordered insurgent attacks, including the killing of a foreign-aid official in March 2005.
Capture and death
Obaidullah was captured by Pakistani security forces in February 2007 in Quetta, Pakistan. He was the most senior Taliban official captured since the start of the present war in Afghanistan. The arrest coincided with U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney's visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan in late February 2007, but the timing has been reported to be a coincidence rather than a reaction to Cheney's visit.
Obaidullah was freed in November 2007 in exchange for the release of more than 200 Pakistani soldiers captured by the Taliban. He was rearrested in February 2008 and died on 5 March 2010 of a heart disease inside a prison in Karachi, Pakistan.
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- 'Taleban leader held' in Pakistan, BBC News, March 2, 2007
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- Reuters, "Taliban names anti-US leadership council", June 24, 2003
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- Report: Pakistan arrests one of Taliban's top three, CNN, March 2, 2007
- "Taliban announces death of ex-defense minister in 2010". Fox News. February 13, 2012.