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Dadullah Akhund
ملا دادالله آخوند
Mullah Dadullah.png
Born1966[citation needed]
Kandahar Province, Afghanistan [1]
DiedMay 13, 2007 (aged 41)
Helmand province
AllegianceFlag of Taliban.svg Taliban
Years of service1994–2007
Battles/warsSoviet–Afghan War
Afghan civil war
War in Afghanistan

Maulavi or Mullah Dadullah or Dadullah Akhund (Pashto: ملا دادالله آخوند‎) (1966 – May 13, 2007) was the Taliban's senior military commander until he was killed by British and American special forces in Afghanistan in 2007.[3] He was an ethnic Pashtun from the Kakar tribe of Kandahar province. According to the United Nations' list of entities belonging to or associated with the Al-Qaida organization, he had been the Taliban's Minister of Construction.[4]

Early life[edit]

Dadullah belonged to the Kakar Pashtun tribe. He lost a leg when fighting with the Mujahideen against Soviet occupation in the 1980s.[5] He was a member of the Taliban's 10-man leadership council before the US-led invasion in 2001. He was reportedly also a close aide to Mullah Omar. In the period of 1999–2000, he led the suppression of a revolt by Hazaras in Bamyan province.[6] In January 2001, Dadullah's forces committed several massacres of ethnic Hazaras, resulting in the death of some 300 civilians in the Yakaolang area. On March 10, 2001, he supervised the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, which had been ordered by Mullah Omar.[7] When the Taliban regime fell in December 2001, Dadullah escaped capture by Northern Alliance forces in Kunduz province.[5]

Fight post 2001[edit]

Rumors that Dadullah may be headed to recapture the city with as many as 8,000 Taliban fighters, following the November 2001 Battle of Mazar-i-Sharif, a thousand American ground forces were airlifted into the city.[8]

He allegedly participated (by giving orders via cell phone) in the murder of Ricardo Munguia on March 27, 2003. In 2005 he was sentenced in absentia to life in prison, along with three others, by Pakistan for the attempted murder of a member of Pakistan's parliament, Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam party. Sherani, an opponent of the Taliban, survived an IED attack in his home constituency of Balochistan in November, 2004.[9]

A "Western intelligence source" claimed Dadullah may have been operating out of Quetta, Pakistan.[10] Others, including the Pakistani government, claimed he was operating near Kandahar, Afghanistan. In 2006, he claimed to have 12,000 men and control 20 districts in the former Taliban heartland in the southern provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul and Orūzgān.[11]

Dadullah had reportedly been a central figure in the recruitment of Pakistani nationals to the Taliban[6] and was also one of the main Taliban spokesmen, frequently meeting with Al-Jazeera television reporters.[12] In the summer of 2006, he was reportedly sent by Mullah Omar to South Waziristan to convince local Pashtun insurgents to agree to a truce with Pakistan.[13] In October 2006 it was rumored[14] that the Afghan government was considering giving control of its defense ministry over to Dadullah as part of a reconciliation plan with the Taliban to stop the ongoing insurgency.

Mullah Dadullah was linked to massacres of Shi'a, the scorched earth policy of Shi'a villages in 2001 (which he boasted about once on the radio), and the summary execution of men suspected of throwing hand grenades into his compound in 2001 (they were hanged at one of the main roundabouts). According to an interview he gave to the BBC, he had hundreds of suicide bombers waiting for his orders to launch an offensive against NATO troops.[15]

Dadullah oversaw Taliban negotiations for the hostage-taking of Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo and his two Afghan assistants in March 2007. Mastrogiacomo's driver was later beheaded. Mastrogiacomo was reportedly exchanged for five senior Taliban leaders, including Ustad Yasir, Abdul Latif Hakimi, Mansoor Ahmad, a brother of Dadullah, and two commanders identified as Hamdullah and Abdul Ghaffar. The Taliban threatened to kill the interpreter Ajmal Naqshbandi, one of the two Afghan assistants, on March 29, 2007, unless the Kabul government freed two Taliban prisoners.[16] Ajmal was later beheaded after the Afghan government refused to free anymore Taliban prisoners. According to Asadullah Khalid, the governor of Kandahar Province, "Mullah Dadullah was the backbone of the Taliban. He was a brutal and cruel commander who killed and beheaded Afghan civilians."[17]


Afghan officials reported on May 13, 2007, that Mullah Dadullah was killed the previous evening in a raid by U.S, Afghan and NATO forces, known to have included the Special Boat Service (SBS), a British special forces unit, in Helmand Province, after he left his "sanctuary" for a meeting with fellow commanders, in southern Afghanistan.[18] Some reports indicate Dadullah was killed in the Gershk district, while others claim he was killed near the Sangin and Nari Saraj district.[19] Asadullah Khalid, the governor of Kandahar province, put the body of Dadullah on display at his official residence. The body appeared to have three bullet wounds, two in the torso and one in the back of the head. The Taliban named Mullah Bakht, Dadullah's younger brother, as his replacement.[20]

On June 7, 2007, the Taliban said that Dadullah's body had been returned to them, in exchange for four Afghan health ministry workers who had been held hostage, and had been buried by his family in Kandahar. The Taliban said that a fifth hostage had been beheaded because Dadullah's body was not returned quickly enough.[21][22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "He was believed to have been born in Kandahar province". Aljazeera. 13 May 2007.
  2. ^ Deobandi Islam: The Religion of the Taliban U. S. Navy Chaplain Corps, 15 October 2001
  3. ^ Yahoo News – Top Taliban Commander Killed In Fighting
  4. ^ John R. Bolton (2003). "Denied Persons Pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution". United States Federal Registry. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
  5. ^ a b The Taleban's most feared commander, BBC News, May 19, 2006
  6. ^ a b The Specter of Mullah Dadullah Archived 2006-07-11 at the Wayback Machine, June 13, 2006
  7. ^ Maley, William (2002). The Afghanistan Wars. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 240–241. ISBN 978-0-333-80291-5.
  8. ^ Khan, M. Ismail. Dawn, Mazar falls to Alliance: Taliban says they're regrouping, November 10, 2001
  9. ^ Fugitive Taleban leader sentenced, BBC News, December 29, 2005
  10. ^ Across the border from Britain's troops, Taliban rises again, The Guardian, May 27, 2006
  11. ^ Afghanistan: Taleban's second coming, BBC News, June 2, 2006
  12. ^ Captured Taliban leader appears on Al-Jazeera[permanent dead link], Jerusalem Post, May 29, 2006
  13. ^ Omar role in truce reinforces fears that Pakistan 'caved in' to Taliban, Daily Telegraph, September 24, 2006
  14. ^ Taliban Rising, The Nation, October 12, 2006
  15. ^ Afghan Taleban commander killed, BBC News, May 13, 2007
  16. ^ Taliban leader threatens to kill Afghan hostage, Reuters, March 29, 2007
  17. ^ Top Taliban commander killed in Afghanistan, The Daily Telegraph, May 13, 2007
  18. ^ Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah killed, Channel 4, May 13, 2007
  19. ^ "Mullah Dadullah, Taliban top commander, killed in Helmand". Long War Journal.
  20. ^ Taliban Names Replacement After Death of Top Commander, CBC News, May 14, 2007
  21. ^ "Taleban handed commander's body", BBC News, June 7, 2007.
  22. ^ The Blotter: Afghan Trade: Four Hostages for Body of Dead Taliban