Taliban capture IS leader Mullah Rauf, 45 supporters
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): The Taliban on Wednesday captured Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim, an Islamic State (IS) ally, along with 45 supporters in the Kajaki district of southern Helmand province, a reliable source confided to Pajhwok Afghan News.
However, security officials expressed unawareness about the detention of Rauf, who became a recruiter for the IS group in Afghanistan after falling out with the Taliban. Rauf, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, was a military commander in Herat and Kabul during Taliban’s regime.
He recently joined the IS, a jihadi group which controls large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria, and has been leading hundreds of masked gunmen in northern districts of Helmand.
A Taliban commander in Helmand, wishing anonymity, told Pajhwok Afghan News they disarmed Rauf and his 45 gunmen and detained them on Wednesday in compliance with directives from the Taliban’s governor for Helmand, Mullah Abdul Rahim Akhund.
He said the men were in their custody and their fate would be decided by Taliban religious leaders and judges.
The Taliban commander said they had been directed to arrest Mullah Rauf because he was against the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the Taliban’s official name. He said Mullah Rauf was involved in anti-Islamic activities.
A tribal elder in Kajaki, Abdul Ahad Masoomi, also a member of the provincial reform committee, told Pajhwok Afghan News that harsh differences had recently surfaced between local militants and Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim group.
“Mullah Khadim, who claims allegiance to Daesh (Arabic acronym for IS) forcibly assembled local residents on Thursday last in the Kakaji’s Azan area and told the people that Mullah Omar no longer exists and they should now support him.”
Masoomi said Mullah Rauf and his masked gunmen arrived in the area in dozens of vehicles. A day after (on Friday) they left, Taliban insurgents arrived in the area and told residents that Rauf was an infidel and no one should support him, according to the elder.
Masoomi said he had no knowledge of Rauf’s arrest, but confirmed he had serious differences with his former colleagues.
Kajaki police chief Faizullah Akhund said differences among Taliban and masked gunmen had recently deepened, but they had no information about Rauf’s detention.
He said Taliban’s governor Mullah Akhund on Wednesday visited Olang area and held a meeting with local Taliban leaders, but no details of the meeting were available.
Pajhwok tried to seek comment from Taliban’s overall spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, but did not succeed.
But this scribe was able to find a message Ahmadi had sent to local Taliban. In the message, Ahmadi confirmed Mullah Rauf had been arrested.
Pajhwok received the message from local Taliban sources. “Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim has been detained along with 45 associates and their fate will be decided later,” the message says.
An official at the provincial National Directorate of Security (NDS) also confirmed harsh differences between the two groups, but had no information about Mullah Rauf’s detention.
A senior official in Helmand said Mullah Rauf had been one of Mullah Omar’s close aides. He was detained during Taliban’s last year in power in northern Afghanistan and was handed over to the US.
He was held for seven years in Guantanamo Bay detention centre and was released in 2007 and flown back to Kabul where he remained under Afghan government’s observation. But Rauf fled to Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, and was appointed as a member of Taliban’s Quetta Council and head of the military council.
However, he developed differences with the Taliban and was expelled from the movement before joining the IS.
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