Report: "Taliban Zarqawi" killed in fighting in southern Afghanistan; Update: NYT, BBC reporters view body; Update: NATO confirms; Update: Video of body added

No confirmation yet from NATO but an Afghan official claims to have seen the body. Another official (or the same one?) tells Reuters it’s in Kandahar, presumably in the government’s possession. AFP quotes an Interior Ministry official as saying his brother’s been killed, too.

Big, big news if it’s true.

Update: Feeling optimistic…

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force did not confirm the death but hinted that it was true. “You might want to keep pursuing it. It certainly is an issue that we’re tracking,” said spokesman Maj. John Thomas.

Update: Fortuitous timing by Strategy Page with this piece, which suggests Dadullah might still have been holed up in that village where he was surrounded by Afghan troops on April 23. I don’t buy it. Why would they have waited three weeks to move in?

NATO needs some good PR right now. Cross your fingers.

Update: The AP’s got a second source now, but this one’s not from NATO either: “A second intelligence service official said Dadullah was killed near the Sangin and Nahri Sarraj districts of Helmand province, which have seen heavy fighting involving British and Afghan troops and U.S. Special Forces.”

Update: The Beeb says Afghan media has seen the proof: “His body was later taken to the city of Kandahar and shown to reporters.”

Update: Here he is in a snippet from his last known interview, taunting the west with nonsense about the boogeyman:

Update: The Afghan interior ministry and the governor of Helmand provine say it’s true. Only waiting for NATO now.

Update: The Beeb says it can confirm. “Soldiers later took the body to the city of Kandahar, where it was seen by a BBC reporter.”

Update: Looks like it’s for real. Score!

Afghan government officials showed the body of Mullah Dadullah, the top operational commander for the Taliban insurgency, to reporters here Sunday morning, saying he had been killed in a joint operation of Afghan and coalition forces.

Mr. Dadullah, an amputee, was recognizable in part from his missing leg and white beard.

White beard?

Update: The “white beard” reference was obviously a miscommunication. Yahoo has a raft of photos of the body up now and his beard is, as it’s always been, black.

Sure looks like it’s him.

Update: The Taliban is either in denial or busy trying to build a myth, but the official word from NATO has finally come.

Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a purported Taliban spokesman, denied that the Taliban commander had been killed.

”Mullah Dadullah is alive,” Ahmadi told AP by satellite phone. He did not give further details.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force confirmed the death, saying that after Dadullah left his ”sanctuary” in the south, he was killed in a U.S.-led coalition operation supported by NATO and Afghan troops…

A tribal leader from the Nad Ali district of Helmand province said ground forces and helicopters surrounded a home in Dadullah’s home village of Kakeban, killing the Taliban leader and seven militants. A Helmand government official, meanwhile, said Dadullah was killed while traveling in his vehicle in southern Helmand.

Update: The Taliban is promising a “fresh voice recording” of Dadullah to prove that he’s alive. This was a guy known for his videos, mind you, so the fact that they’re promising audio only is telling. The governor of Kandahar says there’s no doubt it’s him because the tip they got was based on “exact information.”

Update: Looks like the Taliban has already given up the ghost — the BBC says they’ve confirmed Dadullah’s death too after initial denials.

Update: Meanwhile, the Taliban continues to run rampant across the border in western Pakistan, forcing the U.S. to take desperate measures like this.

Update: Here’s why they call him the Taliban Zarqawi:

He is also thought to be responsible for ordering numerous assassinations of clerics, government officials and health and education workers, kidnappings and beheadings, including of foreigners, and for many of the suicide bombings that have killed or wounded hundreds of Afghans and dozens of foreigners in the last year and a half.

A longtime mujahed and senior commander of the Taliban, Mullah Dadullah fought on the frontlines as the Taliban seized control of much of the country in the 1990s. He has been accused by human rights groups of massacring civilians during a campaign in the mid-nineties in the central Afghanistan province of Bamiyan, peopled mostly by Shiite muslims who were resisting the Taliban advance.

Update (Ian): Video of body:

Trending on Hotair Video