Targeted killings and two worlds in Afghanistan: inside the Takhar attack

On September 2, 2010, ten men in northern Afghanistan were killed in an air attack that was a targeted killing, part of the U.S. Special Forces ‘kill or capture’ strategy. The U.S. military said it had killed the Taliban deputy shadow governor of Takhar, who was also a ‘senior member’ of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU): one Muhammad Amin, as well as “eight or nine other insurgents.”

Many Afghans, including senior government officials, were incredulous. Many knew the man who had actually been targeted — who was not Muhammad Amin, but Zabet Amanullah. He had not fought for the Taliban since 2001 and had been out campaigning for his nephew in Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections with more than a dozen other men, mainly extended family members. That very morning, as per usual, he had called in to the district police chief to check on security before the election campaign convoy set off. The strike was an “obvious mistake,” said the provincial governor, Abdul-Jabar Taqwa. “He was an ordinary person and lived among normal people,” said the Takhar Chief of Police, Shah Jahaan Nuri. “I could have captured him with one phone call.” Continue reading

Al Qaeda is becoming less of a presence in Afghanistan, says allied commander Petraeus

Sunday, Apr 10 2011

By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 12:48 AM on 10th April 2011

No threat: U.S. General David Petraeus said the coalition would be keeping pressure on al Qaeda fighters

The commander of U.S and Nato forces in Afghanistan does not believe al Qaeda fighters are coming back in to Afghanistan to engage coalition forces.

U.S. Army General David Petraeus said there was still an al Qaeda presence in the war-torn country, but it was greatly diminished.

He told reporters at the Coalition’s HQ in Kabul: ‘There is no question that al Qaeda has had a presence in Afghanistan and continues to have a presence – generally assessed at less than 100 or so.

‘There certainly has been some exploration for potential safe havens or sanctuaries in very mountainous areas of Nuristan and parts of Kunar provinces.

‘Our intention, with our Afghan partners, is to maintain pressure on those who are seeking to establish safe havens.’

The general said the recent deaths of seven U.N. workers in Mazar-e-Sharif, following the burning of a Muslim holy book last month in Florida, would not affect plans for Afghan security forces to take over security in the provincial capital this July. Continue reading