Shahzada (Taliban commander)

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Mullah Shahzada is a Taliban field commander who was held in extrajudicial detention in Guantanamo, was later released, and subsequently rejoined the Taliban.[1][2][3]

Accounts of Mullah Shahzada[edit]


A report from March 21, 2001, listed a Mullah Shahzada as a member of the Taliban delegation charged with responsibility over the destruction of statues.[4]


The New York Times reported on an interview with a "former fighter" named Mullah Shahzada, in Quetta, Pakistan.[5] "It is too difficult studying in Afghanistan, because all the time people demand, `Who are you and what are you doing?' " said Mullah Shahzada, a religious teacher and former fighter from the southern province of Helmand.

The New York Times article does not say that Shahzada was a member of the Taliban.


The New York Times reported:[6]

"New accounts from officials in Afghanistan and the United States indicate that at least 5 of the 57 Afghan detainees released have returned to the battlefield as Taliban commanders or fighters. Some of the five have been involved in new attacks on Americans, officials in southern Afghanistan said, including a notorious Taliban commander, Mullah Shahzada, who was reportedly killed in a recent accident."


Oliver North claimed that Mullah Shahzada was one of the three youngest children at Guantanamo, who were given more humane treatment, including schooling, at Camp Iguana, apparently unaware that "mullah" is an honorific, meaning "educated man".[7] The identity of the three children had already been published, Naqibullah, Asadullah Abdul Rahman, and Muhammad Ismail Agha. North claimed Mullah Shahzada swore to abstain form violence, but was killed in a firefight weeks after his release.

The People's Daily reports that a Mullah Shahzada was injured during a firefight in October 2005.[8]


The US Department of Defense was forced, by court order, to release the names of the captives taken in the "war on terror" who were held in Guantanamo. On 2006 April 20 they released a list of 558 names, nationalities and Guantanamo Bay detention camp ID numbers, of all the captives whose status as "enemy combatants" had been reviewed by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal.[9]

Twenty-five days later they released a much longer list of 759 names, nationalities, Guantanamo Bay detention camp ID numbers, dates of birth, and places of birth, of all captives who had been held in military custody in Guantanamo.[10]

There is no one named "Mullah Shahzada" on either the list released on April 20, 2006, or the list released on May 15, 2006.[9][10]

Official acknowledgement[edit]

On May 14, 2007 Department of Defense officials testified before the United States Congress that thirty former Guantanamo captives had returned to the battlefield following their release.[11]

  • They linked Mohamed Yusif Yaqub to the name Mullah Shahzada.[12]
  • They asserted that he was released on May 8, 2003.[12]
  • They asserted "...he assumed control of Taliban operations in Southern Afghanistan."[12]
  • They asserted that he was killed on May 7, 2004.[12]

On June 13, 2008 the Defense Intelligence Agency asserted Yousef Muhammed Yaaqoub, also known as Mullah Shazada, had "returned to terrorism".[13] The DIA reported:

Yousef Muhammed Yaaqoub, better known as Mullah Shazada, was released from GTMO in May 2003. Shazada quickly rejoined the Taliban as a commander in southern Afghanistan. In this role, his activities reportedly included the organization and execution of a jailbreak in Kandahar, and a nearly successful capture of the border town of Spin Boldak. Shazada was killed on 7 May 2004 fighting U.S. forces. His memorial in Quetta, Pakistan, drew many Taliban leaders wanted by U.S. forces. At the time of his release, there was no indication he was a member of any terrorist organization or posed a risk to U.S. or Allied interests.[13]

See also[edit]