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Great British Battles – Battle of Musa Qala 7 – 12 Dec 2007

Great British Battles 

Battle of Musa Qala

Battle of Musa Qala
Part of the War in Afghanistan (2001–present)

Date
7–12 December 2007

Location
Musa Qala, Helmand province, Afghanistan

Result
Coalition victory
Taliban retreat

Belligerents
International Security Assistance Force:

International Security Assistance Force:       Versus Afghanistan Taliban insurgents

 United Kingdom

 United States

 Denmark

 Estonia

Afghanistan Afghan National Army

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THE BATTLE FOR MUSA QALA

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The Battle of Musa Qala (also Qaleh or Qal’eh)  was a British led military action in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan, launched by the Afghan National Army and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) against the Taliban on 7 December 2007.

After three days of intense fighting, the Taliban retreated into the mountains on 10 December. Musa Qala was officially reported captured on 12 December, with Afghan Army troops pushing into the town centre.

The operation was codenamed snakepit (Pashto: Mar Kardad‎).

Senior ISAF officers, including U.S. general Dan K. McNeill, the overall ISAF commander, agreed to the assault on 17 November 2007. It followed more than nine months of Taliban occupation of the town, the largest the insurgents controlled at the time of the battle. ISAF forces had previously occupied the town, until a controversial withdrawal in late 2006.

It was the first battle in the War in Afghanistan in which Afghan army units were the principal fighting force. Statements from the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) emphasised that the operation was Afghan-led, although the ability of Afghan units to function without NATO control was questioned during the battle. Military engagement over Musa Qala is part of a wider conflict between coalition forces and the Taliban in Helmand. Both before and after the battle, related fighting was reported across a larger area, particularly in Sangin district to the south of Musa Qala.

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Musa Qala, Helmand Province, Afghanistan

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Background

Musa Qala is a town of around 15,000 to 20,000 people, with another 25,000 in the surrounding area.ISAF forces were first deployed in the town in mid-June 2006, as part of the “platoon house” strategy. This consisted of protecting the district centres of Northern Helmand with small detachments of British ISAF troops, at the request of the provincial governor Mohammed Daoud.

This move met with an unexpectedly fierce resistance from the Taliban and local tribesmen, who used conventional, rather than asymmetric tactics, to drive the coalition from their positions. The isolated British garrison found itself under siege and constant attack for long periods, and their replacements could only be brought in after a full battle group operation, codenamed Snakebite, broke through Taliban lines in early August.

The fighting ended in October 2006 when, in a controversial move, control was ceded to local tribal elders. The deal was intended to see neither British nor Taliban forces in the town in an effort to reduce conflict and civilian casualties. At the time, a British officer commented:

“There is an obvious danger that the Taliban could make the deal and then renege on it.”

The Taliban did renege on the agreement, quickly over-running the town with 200 to 300 troops in February 2007. The Taliban seizure followed a US airstrike that incensed militants; a Taliban commander’s brother and 20 followers were killed in the attack. A confluence of tribal politics, religion, and money from the opium trade helped ensure the uneasy truce would not hold.  At the time, the government claimed they could retake the town within 24 hours, but that plan had been postponed to avoid causing civilian casualties.

Musa Qala was the only significant town held by the Taliban at the time of the assault, and they had imposed a strict rule on its inhabitants. Special tribunals were set up, pronouncing sentences of stoning, amputation, or death by hanging against those who were considered enemies, or who contravened a strict interpretation of the Sharia. Four men are known to have been hanged as spies during this period.

The Taliban also levied heavy taxes, closed down schools, and drafted local men into their ranks by force.  Other deprivations were reminiscent of previous Taliban rule: men attacked for not wearing beards; music banned and recordings smashed; women punished for not wearing the burqa. The town is situated in a major opium poppy growing area and a BBC correspondent has reported it to be the centre of the heroin trade in Afghanistan.

Battle

Immediate prelude

Coalition military manoeuvres and a build-up of troops and supplies continued for weeks before the assault. On 1 November, British forces started reconnaissance patrols in preparation for the attack In the middle of that month, the MOD reported that troops from 40 Commando Royal Marines and the Right Flank Company of the Scots Guards were patrolling outside the town to confuse the Taliban insurgents and disrupt their supply routes.

In the days before the assault, reconnaissance patrols penetrated as close as a 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the Musa Qala town centre. Hundreds of families were reported to have fled from the pending assault, after the coalition dropped leaflets in warning.

Furthermore, the coalition secured the defection of a critical tribal leader, Mullah Abdul Salaam, who had been governor of Uruzgan province under Taliban rule.A leader of the Alizai tribe, Salaam was reported to be in negotiation with the coalition as early as October 2007, causing a rift within the Taliban.

His defection was personally sought by Afghan president Hamid Karzai and he brought as many as one third of the Taliban forces defending Musa Qala to the coalition side. However, it is unclear if they fought on the side of the ISAF or simply stayed out of the fight.

Prior to the battle, two thousand militants were reported to be holding the town. A similar claim of 2,050 “fully armed fighters” was made in late November by Enqiadi, a taliban commander. At the time, Enqiadi seemed confident that the whole of Helmand province would fall to the Taliban in the winter of 2007–08.

Subsequent estimates reduced numbers of Taliban fighters, with an ISAF officer suggesting that the maximum strength was closer to two to three hundred.

Main assault

Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan: Members of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment prepare for air assault on Musa Qala.

The main assault on Musa Qala began at 4 pm on 7 December. Several Taliban were reportedly killed in US airstrikes as the attack began. That evening some 600 American soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division were airlifted to the north of the town in 19 helicopters.

Black Hawk

 

Chinook and Blackhawk troop carriers escorted by Apache attack helicopters were involved in the assault. During the night the paratroopers broke through Taliban trenches to clear the way for further ground troops and then dug defensive positions.

During the attack, an Apache was hit by ground fire and had one engine knocked out but the pilot, CW2 Thomas O. Malone, managed to land safely despite being injured. More than 2,000 British troops of the Helmand Task Force (then under the direction of 52nd Infantry Brigade), including Scots Guards, Household Cavalry, and Royal Marines from 40 Commando, became involved in the operation. British troops set up a cordon around the town to aid the US attack and also began an advance with Afghan troops from the south, west, and east, exchanging gunfire with the Taliban.

At least on the first day of the battle these advances may have served as a feint to divert attention from the main US air assault Danish and Estonian troops were also involved in the initial assault.

Sergeant Lee Johnson

Sergeant Lee Johnson

Fighting continued on 8 December. As British and Afghan soldiers continued their ground advance, US air forces repeatedly attacked the Taliban, including numerous anti-aircraft positions surrounding the town.

The Taliban defended positions surrounded by minefields, a principal danger to coalition forces. The assault made progress nonetheless, with the Afghan Ministry of Defence reporting that day: “In this operation so far, 12 terrorists were killed, one captured and a number of weapons and ammunitions were seized.”

Sergeant Lee Johnson

 

A British soldier, Sergeant Lee Johnson of the 2nd Battalion (Green Howards) Yorkshire Regiment, was killed shortly after 10 am on the eighth, when his vehicle drove over a mine; another soldier was seriously injured in the blast.

Taliban forces took up new positions to defend the town on 9 December. Taliban sources suggested at the time that militants from nearby areas were entering the town to reinforce its defence. Fighting was on-going through the day and bombs planted by insurgents continued to take a toll on ISAF forces:

Corporal Tanner J O’Leary

An American soldier, Corporal Tanner J O’Leary of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was killed by the detonation of an improvised explosive device

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US Marine Musa Qala patrol, Afghanistan, Jan 2011

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Taliban retreat

By 10 December, news outlets reported that the Taliban insurgents had withdrawn north from the area and that Afghan Army and ISAF forces were in control of the town.

The British MOD was more cautious at the time, advising that “steady progress” had been made but that coalition forces remained on the outskirts of Musa Qala. Nevertheless, the Afghan government suggested that the coalition had “completely captured” the town.

NATO announced the town’s capture on the 11th, however at the time the MOD suggested forces were still proceeding cautiously “compound to compound”,  only officially confirmed the capture of Musa Qala the next day. Afghan troops were called forward for the final push and by midday on the twelfth were reported to be in the town centre, in a gesture symbolising their ability to fight and defeat the Taliban on their own. Lieutenant Colonel Richard Eaton, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, described the retaking of the town:

The current situation in Musa Qaleh is that it is underneath the Afghan flag … Midmorning today [12 December 2007] our operations to relieve and recapture Musa Qaleh were concluded with the final phase being an assault into Musa Qaleh by the Afghan Army…. The cooperation with the Afghan troops has been very good indeed. General Muhayadan was crucially involved in the planning. He moved his planning team to collocate with Headquarters 52 Brigade in Lashkar Gar.
Brigadier Andrew Mackay, commander of the Helmand Task Force, emphasised that the coalition’s plan encouraged the less committed local fighters—the so-called “tier two” Taliban—to break away from the more ideologically driven militants. This strategy may have been successful; Afghan president Hamid Karzai declared that he had been approached by Taliban members wanting to swap sides after a string of insurgent exactions against civilians.

He said:

“They hanged a boy of 15 from a ceiling and lit two gas canisters under him.”

Precise Taliban casualties were not reported although the Afghan Defence Ministry suggested hundreds killed, detained, or captured. The insurgents claimed 17 Afghan army and ISAF killed, and blamed the British for at least 40 civilians deaths, but their claims may not be reliable.

Although fierce in the first days, the battle did not produce the house-to-house combat that had been feared; the Taliban largely retreated without protracted resistance. Poor weather conditions, including fog, may have allowed them to retreat more easily.

Taliban spokesmen suggested the retreat was designed to avoid continued airstrikes and civilian casualties within the town. By the time the town centre was reached, fighting proved “unremarkable” and according to one senior US officer:

“The urban center of Musa Qala was not significantly opposed, it was not significantly barricaded”.

The final advance into the town’s main bazaar by the Afghan Army was physically led by an Advanced Search Team of the Royal Engineers of the British Army followed by EOD and the main Afghan force who raised their flag for the world’s press.

Relevance to larger campaign

Kajaki Dam, River Helmand

Musa Qala is just one flashpoint in the wider Helmand province campaign, a coalition effort to dislodge the Taliban from the volatile province, largely led by British forces. The battle to retake the town sparked conflict in adjoining areas. In November 2007, when reconnaissance patrols began, “vicious” Taliban attacks were launched in Sangin Valley, Helmand province, to the south, including one which saw Royal Marine Commandos endure two days of rocket and mortar fire.

Trooper Jack Sadler

 

 Just three days before the main assault, on 4 December, British forces suffered a fatality to the north of the village of Sangin, when Trooper Jack Sadler was killed by a roadside bomb.

The week prior to the assault saw a variety of other engagements in Helmand: the British confronted sustained attack near the Kajaki Dam, northeast of Sangin; further west, Estonian, British and American troops were engaged near the town of Nawzad at the center of Nawzad District. Danish forces under British command were attacked in the town of Gereshk.

In the days after the main battle was launched, Lieutenant Colonel Eaton confirmed that the Taliban were attempting to create pressure in other areas but that attacks on British bases had been repulsed. One Taliban commander noted:

“We have launched attacks in Sangin and in Sarwan Kala (Sarevan Qaleh) … We have orders to attack the British everywhere.”

When the principal Taliban retreat from Musa Qala occurred fighting continued elsewhere: on the eleventh and twelfth, retreating Taliban militants attacked a government centre in Sangin. They were repulsed with 50 killed, according to the Afghan Defence Ministry.

American, British, and other NATO special forces were specifically deployed to prevent the Taliban from withdrawing north into Baghran District, and east into Orūzgān Province, their traditional refuge.

Aftermath

The Afghan flag is raised over Musa Qala following its recapture.

British officers expressed satisfaction that Musa Qala had been recaptured without any artillery shells or bombs hitting the town itself. However, they acknowledged that the Taliban had not been definitively defeated and would probably “have another go” in the area.

Taliban fighters were believed to have merged back into the local rural population after the defeat, their traditional dress providing simple cover. In the days after the battle, counter-attacks on the town were considered likely and coalition officials suggested sustained defence would be necessary;

British forces plan to reinforce Musa Qala but have emphasised that future defence of the village will be largely Afghan controlled. The optimistic picture of Afghan capability presented by ISAF command has been challenged. A reporter on the ground, writing for The Times, notes that the Afghan forces “could barely function without NATO’s protection and NATO had to cajole them to move forward”.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown in Helmand

 

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was in Helmand at the time of the assault, visiting troops at Camp Bastion. He suggested success at Musa Qala would provide a step toward Afghan peace and promised continued reconstruction relief. Coalition and Afghan government plans include the construction of a local mosque, the rebuilding of a district centre, police buildings, schools, and the repair of the electricity infrastructure.

The governor of Helmand, Assadullah Wafa, said a delegation would visit Musa Qala to distribute 5,000 tons of aid to returning civilians in the immediate aftermath of the battle.

On 26 December, engineers from 69 Gurkha Field Squadron, 36 Engineer Regiment moved into Musa Qala and started rebuilding the district centre. Their task includes the construction of a perimeter fence made of Hesco bastions, and sangars (watchtowers) made of sandbags.

Various Taliban supplies were seized by coalition forces following the battle. On 13 December, British and Afghan army units located bomb factories and weapons caches as they moved further into the outskirts of Musa Qala and searched Taliban positions. At the same time, the first civilians started to return to the area, some with reports of Taliban punishments and claims of active Pakistani and Arab jihadis.

A new orientation of British strategy in Helmand is to use military force to curb the influence of local drug barons, whose trade supports the insurgents. On 16 December, British troops burned an estimated £150 to £200 million worth of heroin that had been found in a drug factory and other buildings in Musa Qala.

The strategic purpose of controlling Musa Qala is both to squeeze Taliban operations in south-western Afghanistan and to serve as a symbol of Afghan National Army and ISAF strength; the town had taken on iconic proportions, according to British officials. The Taliban, however, continue to enjoy significant civilian support despite their atrocities and the broader campaign to win over the region remains difficult

Troop shortages have made it difficult for NATO to hold areas seized from the Taliban in southern Afghanistan.

Civilian return to the town was slow, with shops still shuttered on 16 December. Civilian casualty reports were conflicting: one resident claimed 15 dead bodies lay in a single street and another that his family were dead under rubble. The coalition rejected such claims, admitting only that two children had been injured, and possibly killed, when a car driving at high speeds towards ISAF troops during the battle overturned when the driver was shot dead

Coalition and Afghan authorities continued their efforts to win over Taliban sympathizers. However a “miscommunication between authorities” created some tension. In late December, two western diplomats were expelled from Afghanistan. Governor Assadullah Wafa accused them of holding secret talks with the Taliban and proposing bribes to them; the secret talks were denied as a misunderstanding by a UN spokesperson.

In January 2008, Mullah Abdul Salaam was appointed governor of Musa Qala district by the Afghan government, a gesture that was intended to encourage other Taliban commanders to change sides.


Click here for details on The Siege of Musa Qala  which took place between July 17 and September 12, 2006 in Afghanistan’s Helmand province

What does death of Mullah Omar mean for Taliban and Afghanistan?

What does death of Mullah Omar mean for Taliban and Afghanistan?

Fault Lines – On the Front Lines with the Taliban

Mullah Mohammed Omar Mujahid (Pashto: ملا محمد عمر مجاهد‎, Mullā Muḥammad ‘Umar Mujáhid; 1959/1962[10][11] – 2013), often simply called Mullah Omar, was the supreme commander and the spiritual leader of the Taliban. He was Afghanistan‘s 11th head of state from 1996 to late 2001, under the official title “Head of the Supreme Council”.

Mullah Omar has been wanted by the United States Department of State‘s Rewards for Justice program since October 2001 for sheltering Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda militants in the years prior to the September 11 attacks.[12] He was believed to be directing the Taliban insurgency against the United States armed forces-led International Security Assistance Force and the government of Afghanistan.[13][14]

Despite his political rank and his high status on the Rewards for Justice most wanted list,[12] not much was publicly known about him. Only two photos exist of him, neither of them official, and a picture used in 2002 by many media outlets has since been established to be someone other than him. The authenticity of the existing images is debated. There is a lack of images of him, because it is against original Islamic law.[15] Apart from the fact that he is missing one eye, accounts of his physical appearance state that Omar is very tall at around 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m).[16][17] Mullah Omar has been described as shy and non-talkative with foreigners.[18]

During his tenure as Emir of Afghanistan, Omar seldom left the city of Kandahar and rarely met with outsiders,[16] instead relying on Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil for the majority of diplomatic necessities.

It was reported on 29 July 2015 that he had died two to three years before.[19] This is not the first time Omar has been reported dead since the Taliban’s fall from power; the Afghan government is presently working to verify (or disprove) the July 2015 reports. This was confirmed by the Afghan intelligence agency; however, the Taliban themselves have not issued a confirmatory statement saying he is deceased.[20]

Personal life

According to most sources, Omar was born sometime between 1955 and 1962[11] in a village in Kandahar Province, Kingdom of Afghanistan (in present-day Kandahar Province or Uruzgan Province).[21][22] Some suggest his birth year as 1950[23][24] or 1953,[25] or as late as around 1966.[25][26] His exact place of birth is also uncertain; one possibility is a village called Nodeh near the city of Kandahar.[27][28][29] Matinuddin writes that he was born in 1961 in Nodeh village, Panjwai District, Kandahar Province.[30] Others say Omar was born in a village of the same name in Uruzgan Province.[22] In Omar’s entry in the UNSC‘s Taliban Sanctions List, “Nodeh village, Deh Rahwod District, Uruzgan Province” is given as a possible birthplace.[25] Other reports say Omar was born in 1960 in Noori village near Kandahar.[31] ‘Noori village, Maiwand District, Kandahar Province’ is a second location suggested in Omar’s entry in the Sanctions List.[25] According to a biography of Mullah Omar published online by the Taliban in April 2015, he was born in 1960 in the village of Chah-i-Himmat, in Khakrez District, Kandahar Province.[32] Better established than Omar’s place of birth is that his childhood home was in Deh Rahwod District, Uruzgan Province, having moved to a village there with his uncle after the death of his father.[21] (though some identify the district as Omar’s birthplace).[33]

An ethnic Pashtun, he was born in conservative rural Afghanistan to a poor landless family of the Hotak tribe, which is part of the larger Ghilzai branch.[27] According to Hamid Karzai, “Omar’s father was a local religious leader, but the family was poor and had absolutely no political links in Kandahar or Kabul. They were essentially lower middle class Afghans and were definitely not members of the elite.”[34] His father Mawlawi Ghulam Nabi[25] Akhund died when Omar was young.[21] According to Omar’s own words he was 3 years old when his father died, and thereafter he was raised by his uncles.[35] One of his uncles married Omar’s mother, and the family moved to a village in the poor Deh Rawod District, where the uncle was a religious teacher.[21] It is reported that they lived in the village of Dehwanawark, close to the town of Deh Rahwod.[36]

Omar fought as a rebel soldier with the anti-Soviet Mujahideen under the command of Nek Mohammad and others, but did not fight against the Najibullah regime between 1991 and 1992.[27] It was reported that he was thin, but tall and strongly built, and “a crack marksman who had destroyed many Soviet tanks during the Afghan War.”[37]

Omar was wounded four times. Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef claims to have been present when shrapnel destroyed one of Omar’s eyes during a battle in Sangsar, Panjwaye District shortly before the 1987 Battle of Arghandab.[8] Other sources place this event in 1986[38] or in the 1989 Battle of Jalalabad.[9]

After he was disabled, Omar may have studied and taught in a madrasah, or Islamic seminary. He was reportedly a mullah at a village madrasah near the Afghan city of Kandahar.

Unlike many Afghan mujahideen, Omar speaks Arabic.[39] He was devoted to the lectures of Sheikh Abdullah Azzam,[40] and took a job teaching in a madrassa in Quetta, Pakistan. He later moved to a Mosque in Karachi, Pakistan, where he led prayers, and later met with Osama bin Laden for the first time.[16]

Forming the Taliban

Following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 and the collapse of Najibullah’s regime in 1992, the country fell into chaos as various mujahideen factions fought for control. Mullah Omar returned to Singesar[when?] and founded a madrassah.[41] According to one legend, in 1994, he had a dream in which a woman told him: “We need your help; you must rise. You must end the chaos. Allah will help you.”[41] Mullah Omar started his movement with less than 50 armed madrassah students, known simply as the Taliban (Students). His recruits came from madrassas in Afghanistan and from the Afghan refugee camps across the border in Pakistan. They fought against the rampant corruption that had emerged in the civil war period and were initially welcomed by Afghans weary of warlord rule.

The practice of bacha bazi by warlords was one of the key factors in Mullah Omar mobilizing the Taliban.[42] Reportedly, in early 1994, Omar led 30 men armed with 16 rifles to free two young girls who had been kidnapped and raped by a warlord, hanging him from a tank gun barrel.[43] Another instance arose when in 1994, a few months before the Taliban took control of Kandahar, two militia commanders confronted each other over a young boy whom they both wanted to sodomize. In the ensuing fight, Omar’s group freed the boy; appeals soon flooded in for Omar to intercede in other disputes.[44] His movement gained momentum through the year, and he quickly gathered recruits from Islamic schools. By November 1994, Mullah Omar’s movement managed to capture the whole of the Kandahar Province and then captured Herat in September 1995.[7]

Leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

On 4 April 1996, supporters of Mullah Omar bestowed on him the title Amir al-Mu’minin (أمير المؤمنين, “Commander of the Faithful”),[45] after he donned a cloak alleged to be that of Muhammad which was locked in a series of chests, held inside the Mosque of the Cloak of the Prophet Mohammed in the city of Kandahar. Legend decreed that whoever could retrieve the cloak from the chest would be the great Leader of the Muslims, or “Amir al-Mu’minin“.[46]

In September 1996, Kabul fell to Mullah Omar and his followers. The civil war continued in the northeast corner of the country, near Tajikistan. The nation was named the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in October 1997 and was recognized by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. A “reclusive, pious and frugal” leader,[16] Omar visited Kabul twice between 1996 to 2001. Omar stated: “All Taliban are moderate. There are two things: extremism [“ifraat”, or doing something to excess] and conservatism [“tafreet”, or doing something insufficiently]. So in that sense, we are all moderates – taking the middle path.”[47]

According to Pakistani journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai, Mullah Omar stated in the late 1990s that “We have told Osama not to use Afghan soil to carry out political activities as it creates unnecessary confusion about Taliban objectives.”[48]

In March 2001, the Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed by the Taliban under an edict issued from Mullah Omar, stating: “all the statues around Afghanistan must be destroyed.”.[49] This prompted an international outcry.[50]

In a BBC’s Pashto interview after the September 11 attacks in 2001, he said, “You (the BBC) and American puppet radios have created concern. But the current situation in Afghanistan is related to a bigger cause – that is the destruction of America…This is not a matter of weapons. We are hopeful for God’s help. The real matter is the extinction of America. And, God willing, it [America] will fall to the ground…”[51]

In exile

After the U.S.-led War in Afghanistan began in early October 2001, Omar went into hiding and was still at large. He is thought to be in the Pashtun tribal region of Afghanistan or Pakistan. The United States is offering a reward of US$10 million for information leading to his capture.[12] In November 2001, he ordered Taliban troops to abandon Kabul and take to the mountains, noting that “defending the cities with front lines that can be targeted from the air will cause us terrible loss”.[52]

Claiming that the Americans had circulated “propaganda” that Mullah Omar had gone into hiding, Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil stated that he would like to “propose that prime minister Blair and president Bush take Kalashnikovs and come to a specified place where Omar will also appear to see who will run and who not.” He stated that Omar was merely changing locations due to security reasons.[53]

In the opening weeks of October 2001, Omar’s house in Kandahar was bombed, killing his 10-year-old son and his uncle.[54]

Mullah Omar continues to have the allegiance of prominent pro-Taliban military leaders in the region, including Jalaluddin Haqqani. The former foe Gulbuddin Hekmatyar‘s faction has also reportedly allied with Omar and the Taliban. In April 2004, Omar was interviewed via phone by Pakistani journalist Mohammad Shehzad.[55] During the interview, Omar claimed that Osama Bin Laden was alive and well, and that his last contact with Bin Laden was months before the interview. Omar declared that the Taliban were “hunting Americans like pigs.”[55]

A captured Taliban spokesman, Muhammad Hanif, told Afghan authorities in January 2007, that Omar was being protected by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in Quetta, Pakistan.[56]

Numerous statements have been released identified as coming from Omar. In June 2006, a statement regarding the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq was released hailing al-Zarqawi as a martyr and claimed that the resistance movements in Afghanistan and Iraq “will not be weakened”.[57] Then in December 2006 Omar reportedly issued a statement expressing confidence that foreign forces will be driven out of Afghanistan.[58]

In January 2007, it was reported that Omar made his “first exchange with a journalist since going into hiding” in 2001 with Muhammad Hanif via email and courier. In it he promised “more Afghan War,” and said the over one hundred suicide bomb attacks in Afghanistan in the last year had been carried out by bombers acting on religious orders from the Taliban – “the mujahedeen do not take any action without a fatwa.”[59] In April 2007, Omar issued another statement through an intermediary encouraging more suicide attacks.[60]

In November 2009, The Washington Times claimed that Omar, assisted by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, had moved to Karachi in October.[61] In January 2010, Brigadier Amir Sultan Tarar, a retired officer with ISI who previously trained Omar, said that he was ready to break with his al-Qaida allies in order to make peace in Afghanistan: “The moment he gets control the first target will be the al-Qaida people.”[62]

In January 2011, The Washington Post, citing a report from the Eclipse Group, a privately operated intelligence network that may be contracted by the CIA, stated that Omar had suffered a heart attack on 7 January 2011. According to the report, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency rushed Omar to a hospital near Karachi where he was operated on, treated, and then released several days later. Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, stated that the report “had no basis whatsoever”.[63]

On 23 May 2011, TOLO News in Afghanistan quoted unnamed sources saying Omar had been killed by ISI two days earlier. These reports remain unconfirmed.[64] A spokesman for the militant group said shortly after the news came out. “Reports regarding the killing of Amir-ul-Moemineen (Omar) are false. He is safe and sound and is not in Pakistan but Afghanistan.”[65] On 20 July 2011, phone text messages from accounts used by Taliban spokesmen Zabihullah Mujahid and Qari Mohammad Yousuf announced Omar’s death. Mujahid and Yousuf, however, quickly denied sending the messages, claimed that their mobile phones, websites, and e-mail accounts had been hacked, and they swore revenge on the telephone network providers.[66]

In 2012, it was revealed that an individual claiming to be Omar sent a letter to President Barack Obama in 2011, expressing slight interest in peace talks.[67][68]

On 31 May 2014, in return for American prisoner of war Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, five senior Afghan detainees were released from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. Omar reportedly hailed their release.[69]

On 23 September 2014, Omar’s aide, Abdul Rahman Nika, was killed by Afghan special forces. According to Afghan intelligence service spokesman Abdul Nasheed Sediqi, Nika was involved in most of the Taliban’s attacks in western Afghanistan, including the kidnapping on 13 August of three Indian engineers, who were later rescued.[70]

Post NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan

In December 2014, acting Afghan intelligence chief Rahmatullah Nabil stated he wasn’t sure “whether Omar is alive or dead.” This came amid reports in late November, after the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency revealed fracturing within the Taliban movement, speculating that a leadership struggle had ensued and therefore that Mullah Omar had died.[71] Later reports from Afghan intelligence in December revealed that Mullah Omar has been hiding in the Pakistani city of Karachi. An anonymous European intelligence official who confirmed this stated “There’s a consensus among all three branches of the Afghan security forces that Mullah Omar is alive. Not only do they think he’s alive, they say they have a good understanding of where exactly he is in Karachi.”[72]

Reported death

On 29 July 2015 the BBC and various other news agencies worldwide reported that Afghan government and intelligence sources said Omar had died two to three years previously, with no further details. Some Taliban sources denied that he had died; other sources considered the report to be speculative, designed to destabilise peace negotiations in Pakistan between the Afghan government and the Taliban. A Taliban spokesman said that they would issue a statement.[19]

Abdul Hassib Seddiqi, the spokesman for Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security, said that Mullah Omar died in a hospital in the Pakistani city of Karachi in April 2013. “We confirm officially that he is dead,” he told The Associated Press.[73]

British SAS Special Forces. Its about time the Terrorists were Terrorised.

 Send in the SAS See how brave they are faced with real Warriors

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British Forces In Firefight with Taliban ( Afghanistan )

The footage follows a squad of British soldiers on foot patrol through irrigated farmland who quickly, soon after leaving their combat outpost, run into a firefight with
Taliban insurgents

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UK vs ISIS: Elite SAS soldiers deployed on secret sniper missions to kill Islamic State militants

Squads of elite British Special Air Service soldiers have been deployed on secret missions to kill Islamic State militants, eliminating up to eight jihadists a day, according to a report in the Mail on Sunday.

Such attacks, which are often launched at night, may reflect a heightened effort from the United Kingdom to fight the Islamic State, as the SAS had previously said it was only engaged in non-combat missions in the area.

Before a mission begins, drones are sent to collect footage of potential target sites, while intelligence officials tap the phones of Islamic State leaders to gather more information.

SAS soldiers are carried to the drop site in Chinook helicopters. Since the helicopter’s engines are loud, the drop site can be as far as 80 kilometres from the target. The troops then prepare their heavy machine guns and sniper rifles before heading to the target site on quad bikes.

Their guerilla-style attacks take enemies by surprise and make it difficult for them to mount a defense. “Our tactics are putting the fear of God into IS as they don’t know where we’re going to strike next and there’s frankly nothing they can do to stop us,” an unnamed SAS source told the Mail on Sunday.

The United States and the United Kingdom will be coordinating an offensive by 20,000 Iraqi and Kurdish troops in spring.

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