Posted by: Christian | May 13, 2007

Mullah Dadullah’s Death Is One Week Too Early

May 13, 2007.

So Mullah Dadullah is dead. NATO/USA/ANA/Afghan Police killed him. Apparently everybody gets credit for this one. But what really aggrieves me is the timing of his death in Helmand. It is one week too early. I’ll explain why below.


My problem is that I had prepared a blog entry that I was going to post this week about Mullah Dadullah. Basically, it said that unlike Mullah Omar and others in the top leadership echelon of what’s left of the Taliban, Dadullah is a true field commander. He prefers to be in the action, not staying back at Taliban HQ, which is usually some guy’s guest room. And as such, I expected him to die violently in Afghanistan, if not in battle, at least near the field of operations.

matt weems Cartoon by Matt Weems

You believe me, don’t you? I guess I’ve been punished for procrastination. I could have been that guy who predicted, quite accurately, the demise of the Taliban’s #1 field commander. Instead I’m the lying blogger who claims that he saw it coming.

Who’s the bigger loser in this? Me? Or Dadullah below?
dadullah dead

Well, I’m still alive so I guess Dadullah is the bigger loser.

[Added later in the day:] OK, time to be serious. In my opinion Mullah Dadullah is not easily replaceable. The process by which Taliban commanders rose to the top goes back to campaigns by Jihadi groups like Haraqat and Hizb-i Islami (Khalis faction, not Hekmatyar) from which many Taliban commanders came from. Add to the Jihad years of the 1980s the years of Taliban campaigns to this experience and you have some very seasoned veterans who have proven themselves again and again in commander roles.

But for the last 5 and a half years the Taliban have been undergoing a process of organizational degradation and defections of their brighter fighters back to normal life. This is not a process by which you create effective leaders/field commanders. And below the remaining commanders are not exactly the type of men who can be relied upon to do much in the way of waging effective insurgency. I highly doubt there are many good leadership candidates ready to assume a role on par with Dadullah.

[Added two years later: what the heck? Did I write this? What has happened since then is that nobody of Dadullah’s stature has risen to a similar level of prominence. But many anonymous field commanders are operating “efficiently” and have more than compensated for the absence of Dadullah’s type. Also, the obvious thing now is that the process of fighting NATO/ISAF has been a good training session for insurgents.]


  1. […] to the exclusion of meaningful development. Afghanistanica has more on why Dadullah’s loss is so bad for the […]

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