British, Afghan commandos capture two Taliban leaders

posted at 10:30 am on May 29, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

As inept as Osama bin Laden’s defense proved when faced with US special forces in his final moments, he still outscores two Taliban commanders in Afghanistan.  In a raid on a compound, British commandos successfully captured two key Taliban military leaders alive this weekend, without a single shot fired:

A crack SAS team has captured two top Taliban commanders without a shot being fired in a secret dawn raid in Afghanistan.

The 12 elite troops seized Maulawi Rahman and Maulawi Mohammed at a high-walled compound north of the remote town of Babaji in Helmand province.

Both men, who surrendered without a fight, are said to have been close confidants of Osama Bin Laden, the terror mastermind killed by US Special Forces in Pakistan last month.

The Daily Mail says the capture of two top-ranked Taliban field commanders will significantly disrupt operations in Afghanistan.  I’d guess that it will significantly disrupt morale, too.  The SAS are top-flight commanders, of course, but these geniuses couldn’t even put up a fight?  Heck, two couriers did better than that in Abbottabad four weeks ago.  You think some of the lower-level Taliban aren’t rethinking their confidence in strategy and tactics promulgated by leaders that can’t secure a compound well enough to put up any kind of defense?

The successful mission might give the US some leverage in negotiations that recently began with the Taliban, at least at arm’s length:

American officials have met with a senior aide to the fugitive Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, at least three times in recent months in the first direct exploratory peace talks, officials in the region said.

The meetings have been facilitated by Germany and Qatar, but American officials have been present each time, meeting with Tayeb Agha, who is a close personal assistant to Mullah Omar, the officials said. The C.I.A.and the State Department have been involved in the meetings, one official said.

The meetings were first reported by The Washington Post last week and the German magazine Der Spiegel this week. A senior Afghan official and Western officials working in the region confirmed the reports on the condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to talk to the news media about the issue.

Begun well before the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 2, the meetings represent a clear shift in the attitude of the Obama administration toward peace talks with the Taliban, first signaled by a speech in February by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Western officials said. In that speech Mrs. Clinton said that previous requirements for starting talks could instead be considered “desired outcomes,” opening the way to exploratory meetings without preconditions.

The Daily Mail makes an important error in its reporting, or at least in the headlines and photo captions, which identified the commanders as al-Qaeda instead of Taliban.  The two terms are not interchangeable.  While both use terrorism, AQ is primarily an Arab organization looking to conduct global terrorism.  The Taliban are primarily Pashtuns and are focused on tribal warfare in Afghanistan for control over the country.

This is not a difference without a distinction.  The Pashtuns are one of the largest tribes in Afghanistan, and a significant demographic in Pakistan as well.  The war with the Taliban is a civil war in many ways, and eventually the Pashtuns will have to get integrated into a new Afghan political structure.  There are too many Pashtuns to think that they can be wiped out, which makes negotiations inevitable.

However, it would be preferable to get the Pashtuns to jettison their leadership and produce rational and moderate leadership rather than give the Talibani any more credibility than they already have.  The US has been trying to pressure the Pashtuns to do that, with no success, for years in both the Bush and Obama administrations.  A few more raids like this, and we may have more success — or the Taliban just might run out of leaders.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

British, Afghan commandos capture two Taliban leaders. Ed left out

Rahman and Mohammed – members of the Quetta Shura, the Taliban’s Pakistani-based high command – were held along with three henchmen, and 80kg of raw opium packed in bales with a street value of £128,000 was also seized.

Aka, Hamid Karzai’s brother’s competition. Things are corrupt in Afghanistan. You can’t put lipstick on this pig.

Dr Evil on May 29, 2011 at 10:37 AM

How many Taliban leaders are there? Seems like that is all one hears in the news in another Taliban leader caught, shot or maybe not.

albill on May 29, 2011 at 10:38 AM

At some point the American people are going to figure out we are fighting Narco Terrorist. Religion in the Taliban’s case is just a “beard” figuratively and literally. We are fighting them in AF/PAK, and we should be doing more to fight them south of our border here at home aka Mexican Drug Cartels. Remember they found an IED in Brownsville, Texas.

Dr Evil on May 29, 2011 at 10:41 AM

Get those men some legal representation, they have rights!!

tommer74 on May 29, 2011 at 10:46 AM

Get those men some legal representation, they have rights!!

tommer74 on May 29, 2011 at 10:46 AM
——————————————-

and were they read those rights?
/

CWforFreedom on May 29, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Nobody -old news. Look at the headlines on HA.

CWforFreedom on May 29, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Pakistan uses Islamic fundamentalism to submerge traditional Pashtun ethnic identity in a desperate attempt to suppress Pashtun ethnic nationalism, and to stave off the disintegration of Pakistan. The Pashtuns are a numerically large enough ethnic group possessing the strength of arms to be able to secede from Pakistan at any moment, should they decide upon it. The answer is to let the separatists have their way and achieve their independent ethnic states, breaking up Pakistan. It’s better to allow Pakistan to naturally break up into 3 or 4 benign ethnic states, than for it to keep promoting Islamic fundamentalist extremism in a doomed attempt to hold itself together. Pakistan is a failing state, and it’s better to let it fail and fall apart. This will help to end all conflict in the region and the trans-national terrorist problem. An independent ethnic Pashtun state would be dominated by Pashtun ethnic identity instead of fundamentalist Islam, and thus AlQaeda would no longer be able to find sanctuary there.

Conventional ethnic identity is far more natural and benign than trans-nationalist Islamism with its inherent collectivist political bent. Supporting the re-emergence of 4 natural ethnic states – Pashtunistan, Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab – would be far better than continuing to support a dangerous and dysfunctional failed state like Pakistan which continues to spew toxic Islamist extremist ideology in a doomed attempt to hold itself together.

Following the failure of the Vietnam War, many Americans later recognized that war was really a war of ethnic reunification by the Vietnamese people. It wasn’t a case of one foreign country attempting to conquer another foreign country – indeed, the north and south Vietnamese were not strangers or aliens to one another – they were 2 halves of a common whole. The question was whether they would reunify under communist socialism or under free democracy, but because a blinkered American leadership refused to recognize the Vietnamese grassroots affinity for one another and their desire to reunify, it pretty much ensured that Vietnamese reunification would take place under communist socialism.

Likewise, the Pashtun people live on both sides of an artificial Durand Line (Afghan-Pak “border”) which they themselves have never accepted or recognized. It’s a question of whether they will politically reunify under close-minded theocratic Islamism or under a more secular and tolerant society. Because today’s blinkered American leadership is again blindly defending another artificial line on a map, and refusing to recognize the oneness of the people living on both sides of that artificial line, America is again shutting itself out of the reunification process, guaranteeing that Pashtun reunification will occur under fanatical fundamentalist Islamism as prescribed by Pakistan (much as Hanoi’s Soviet backers prescribed reunification under communist socialism.) It’s only later on, much after America’s defeat, that some Americans will realize too late that they should have seen that the Pashtuns on both sides of the artificial line were actually one people. Pakistan knows it all too well, because they’ve been living with the guilt and fear of it ever since Pakistan’s creation – but that’s why they’re hell-bent on herding the Pashtuns down the path of Islamist fanaticism, using Islamist glue to keep the Pashtuns as a whole hugged to Pakistan’s bosom.

HalJordan on May 29, 2011 at 11:06 AM

How many Taliban leaders are there? Seems like that is all one hears in the news in another Taliban leader caught, shot or maybe not.

albill on May 29, 2011 at 10:38 AM

The problem isn’t the Taliban, or Al Queda, or Iran.

The problem is islam.

So long as this barbaric death cult exists, there will always be another leader who will step up to continue the jihad.

Rebar on May 29, 2011 at 11:08 AM

Pakistan uses Islamic fundamentalism to submerge traditional Pashtun ethnic identity in a desperate attempt to suppress Pashtun ethnic nationalism, and to stave off the disintegration of Pakistan. The Pashtuns are a numerically large enough ethnic group possessing the strength of arms to be able to s-ecede from Pakistan at any moment, should they decide upon it. The answer is to let the separatists have their way and achieve their independent ethnic states, breaking up Pakistan. It’s better to allow Pakistan to naturally break up into 3 or 4 benign ethnic states, than for it to keep promoting Islamic fundamentalist extremism in a doomed attempt to hold itself together. Pakistan is a failing state, and it’s better to let it fail and fall apart. This will help to end all conflict in the region and the trans-national terrorist problem. An independent ethnic Pashtun state would be dominated by Pashtun ethnic identity instead of fundamentalist Islam, and thus AlQaeda would no longer be able to find sanctuary there.

Conventional ethnic identity is far more natural and benign than trans-nationalist Islamism with its inherent collectivist political bent. Supporting the re-emergence of 4 natural ethnic states – Pashtunistan, Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab – would be far better than continuing to support a dangerous and dysfunctional failed state like Pakistan which continues to spew toxic Islamist extremist ideology in a doomed attempt to hold itself together.

Following the failure of the Vietnam War, many Americans later recognized that war was really a war of ethnic reunification by the Vietnamese people. It wasn’t a case of one foreign country attempting to conquer another foreign country – indeed, the north and south Vietnamese were not strangers or aliens to one another – they were 2 halves of a common whole. The question was whether they would reunify under communist socialism or under free democracy, but because a blinkered American leadership refused to recognize the Vietnamese grassroots affinity for one another and their desire to reunify, it pretty much ensured that Vietnamese reunification would take place under communist socialism.

Likewise, the Pashtun people live on both sides of an artificial Durand Line (Afghan-Pak “border”) which they themselves have never accepted or recognized. It’s a question of whether they will politically reunify under close-minded theocratic Islamism or under a more secular and tolerant society. Because today’s blinkered American leadership is again blindly defending another artificial line on a map, and refusing to recognize the oneness of the people living on both sides of that artificial line, America is again shutting itself out of the reunification process, guaranteeing that Pashtun reunification will occur under fanatical fundamentalist Islamism as prescribed by Pakistan (much as Hanoi’s Soviet backers prescribed reunification under communist socialism.) It’s only later on, much after America’s defeat, that some Americans will realize too late that they should have seen that the Pashtuns on both sides of the artificial line were actually one people. Pakistan knows it all too well, because they’ve been living with the guilt and fear of it ever since Pakistan’s creation – but that’s why they’re hell-bent on herding the Pashtuns down the path of Islamist fanaticism, using Islamist glue to keep the Pashtuns as a whole hugged to Pakistan’s bosom.

HalJordan on May 29, 2011 at 11:10 AM


… without a single shot fired …

The perfect mission, although I’d prefer 100 dead taliban.

“It’s a scale really, with a perfect mission on one end, and total pooch-screw on the other, and we were somewhere in between.” – Fizal (True Lies)

Tony737 on May 29, 2011 at 11:14 AM

Vehicle Interdictions (VIs) with helicopters netted a lot of surprises south of Marjah and other places in the Helmand. You never knew what you might find.

The compounds and well stations along the way south to Pakistan also netted good catches when you could catch them napping. Sounds like what happened here.

hawkdriver on May 29, 2011 at 11:18 AM

So long as this barbaric death cult exists, there will always be another leader who will step up to continue the jihad. – Rebar on May 29, 2011 at 11:08 AM

I agree. Can someone show me a huge moderate group of Muslims that will stand up and fight the crazy jihad groups? Their religious indoctrination starts early and runs deep.

SC.Charlie on May 29, 2011 at 11:20 AM


… but these geniuses couldn’t even put up a fight?

They great at sending OTHERS to fight, but surrender at the first sign of Western Spec Ops in their kitchen.

Remember the old footage of “The Dead Guy” walking around with his bodyguards all around him? Where were they, Disney World? I bet they weren’t there because they knew the ISI had bin Dyin’s back.

Tony737 on May 29, 2011 at 11:20 AM


… the Taliban just might run out of leaders.

The taliban and a.q. have both had their top teir guys wiped out long ago, these are their third stringers and will be replaced by the benchwarmers. It just keeps gettin’ better and better (for us, not them, obviously).

Tony737 on May 29, 2011 at 11:23 AM

captured two key Taliban military leaders alive this weekend, without a single shot fired

I’d have preferred “two shots fired”

mankai on May 29, 2011 at 11:23 AM

The Daily Mail makes an important error in its reporting

You just started to notice this? :)

lexhamfox on May 29, 2011 at 11:24 AM

… helicopters netted a lot of surprises … – Hawk

I wonder how many talibs HotAir’s very own HawkDriver transported to “undisclosed locations” in A-stan? Hawk, have you ever had the urge to bank a little harder than usual and accidently drop one of them out? Haha

Tony737 on May 29, 2011 at 11:31 AM

So, why are we negotiating with these guys?

chewmeister on May 29, 2011 at 11:36 AM

80kg of raw opium packed in bales with a street value of £128,000 was also seized.

Raw opium, in the USofA goes for about 25 dollars a gram.

£128,000 = $210,000 +/-

80kg @ $25/g = $2,000,000

Am I missing something here?

davidk on May 29, 2011 at 11:43 AM

Tony737 on May 29, 2011 at 11:31 AM

It was an exciting year. Great way to finish up a long career. And what an honor to have an old guy be able to fly every day with the kids.

hawkdriver on May 29, 2011 at 11:44 AM

It was an exciting year. Great way to finish up a long career. And what an honor to have an old guy be able to fly every day with the kids.

hawkdriver on May 29, 2011 at 11:44 AM

Your service is greatly appreciated. My oldest son and his wife have been over there since last June. Both fly Blackhawks.

chewmeister on May 29, 2011 at 11:48 AM

Am I missing something here?

davidk on May 29, 2011 at 11:43 AM

The value of those drugs in Afghanistan were much less until they actually could get them out of the country. Unrefined or Tar Opium or Black Opium was a trading commodity. Patroling forces could easily seize (oh say 2.2 tons of refined opium) out of the back of Land Rovers headed South to the Pakistan border. In the region, it’s like money to trade and buy weapons. About 500,000 dollars. The same amount actually making it to States would be worth 100s of millions.

hawkdriver on May 29, 2011 at 11:51 AM

Too bad they all have cancer and will have to be let go.

/…maybe

SouthernGent on May 29, 2011 at 11:51 AM

So, why are we negotiating with these guys?

chewmeister on May 29, 2011 at 11:36 AM

Yes. “Ok, a$$hole, tell me what I want to know or you’re gonna get waterboarded 10 more times. Are we clear?” Talidouche – “Yes sir.”

VegasRick on May 29, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Islam produces endless supplies of mini-Mohammads… terrorist warlords with a command to slaughter and imprison the world in a theocratic totalitarian cage.

Until the Koran is fought, the rest is ineffectual shadowboxing.

And walking into fields with IED’s planted by faux Muslim friends.

profitsbeard on May 29, 2011 at 11:53 AM

British, Afghan commandos capture two Taliban leaders

Why not “British, Afghan commandos KILL two Taliban leaders”. These guys will be released in a couple of years for “humanitarian” reasons and then become heroes.

Mojave Mark on May 29, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Your service is greatly appreciated. My oldest son and his wife have been over there since last June. Both fly Blackhawks.

chewmeister on May 29, 2011 at 11:48 AM

And so is theirs. If they got there last June, they are in the RIP TOA process right now then to come home, no?

hawkdriver on May 29, 2011 at 11:54 AM

Both fly Blackhawks. – Chewy

I HATE the Blackhawks! … They beat my Flyers in the Stanley Cup last year!

Great way to finish up a long career. – Hawk

Enjoy your retirement, Hawkster, if you’re ever on my plane, the drinks are free!

Tony737 on May 29, 2011 at 11:55 AM

hawkdriver on May 29, 2011 at 11:54 AM
Hope so, but haven’t heard when as of yet.

chewmeister on May 29, 2011 at 11:58 AM

Until the Koran is fought, the rest is ineffectual shadowboxing. – PB

Mucce Neka!

Tony737 on May 29, 2011 at 11:58 AM

I love that pic, looks like Spanky and our gang goes to war or some of the old pistolero pics.

Speakup on May 29, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Enjoy your retirement, Hawkster, if you’re ever on my plane, the drinks are free!

Tony737 on May 29, 2011 at 11:55 AM

I am probably within the next couple months, going to commute every two weeks in between Ft Campbell and Ft Bragg (Clarksville TN and Fayetteville or Raliegh NC)to visit my family while I’m on contract with my firm. I know you fly SW and actually wondered if they serviced that region. Would love to meet a great American and family guy such as yourself.

hawkdriver on May 29, 2011 at 12:03 PM

(Clarksville TN and Fayetteville or Raliegh NC) – Hawk

We do Nashville and Raliegh. Wear an Army t-shirt and you’ll almost always get free drinks :-)

Tony737 on May 29, 2011 at 12:12 PM

(Clarksville TN and Fayetteville or Raliegh NC) – Hawk

We do Nashville and Raliegh. Wear an Army t-shirt and you’ll almost always get free drinks :-)

Tony737 on May 29, 2011 at 12:12 PM

Deal

hawkdriver on May 29, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Until the Koran is fought, the rest is ineffectual shadowboxing. – PB

Mucce Neka!

Tony737 on May 29, 2011 at 11:58 AM

Serbian for Islam delende est?

If so, it must be so.

profitsbeard on May 29, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Mucce Neka!

Tony737 on May 29, 2011 at 11:58 AM

Serbian for Islam delende est? – PB

Necca Muke!

Tony737 on May 29, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Waterboard these vermin daily until we are sure they have told everything they know. Verify the accuracy of their confessions. Then execute them and everyone they ratted on.

No mercy.

Jaibones on May 29, 2011 at 4:05 PM

Six months from now they’ll be collecting SSDI and on the dole with 5 wives and 18 children on our dime.

Alden Pyle on May 31, 2011 at 8:58 AM