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Ahmad Shah (nom de guerre Mohammad Ismail; c. 1970c. April 2008) was a local (to the Kunar Province of Afghanistan) who commanded a group of fighters operating in eastern Afghanistan and was linked to Gulbadin Hekmatyar.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

Mullah Ahmad Shah
Nickname(s)Mohammad Ismail
Bornc. 1970; Kabul, Afghanistan[1]
Diedc. April 2008
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
Commands heldAnti-coalition militia (ACM)
Battles/warsWar in Afghanistan

Ahmad Shah was from the Kuz Kunar District of Nangarhar Province. His full name was "Ahmad Shah Dara-I-Nur" meaning "Ahmad Shah of the Valley of the Enlightened Ones".[2]

Shah reportedly fought against the Taliban and al Qaeda in 2001. He eventually switched sides and later became a facilitator for foreign fighters traversing and operating in the challenging terrain of the northeast.[8]

He was most closely associated with Gulbadin Hekmatyar. He led a small armed group of Anti-Coalition Militia (ACM) fighters who ambushed a team of four U.S. Navy SEALs and then shot down an MH-47 helicopter dispatched as part of a quick reaction force for the SEALs, killing a total of 19 U.S. special operations personnel during Operation Red Wings in late June 2005.[2] In the fire fight with the four SEALs his group had an estimated 35 casualties[9] as a result of a last stand by the four SEALs. The Marine Battalion that conceived and planned Operation Red Wings, the 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Marine Regiment developed the operation to disrupt Anti-Coalition Militia (ACM) activity in the Pech District of the Kunar Province with a focus on Shah. Through human intelligence and signals intelligence they determined Ahmad Shah had a force of 10 to 20 fighters. Shah and the fighters under his command exacted heavy casualties to the Navy SEALs and Marines.[2][10][11]

Subsequent to the SEAL ambush and MH-47 shootdown, Shah and his men escaped to Pakistan, where they produced a video from footage they shot of the ambush that included weapons and implements captured from the SEALs. In late July 2005, Shah and his men returned to the Kunar Province, and began attacking United States, Coalition, and Government of Afghanistan entities.[2][10]

Ahmad Shah's cell was destroyed during Operation Whalers, which was planned and executed by the 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Marine Regiment. Operation Whalers, like Operation Red Wings, was planned to disrupt Anti-Coalition Militia activity in the region to further support ongoing stabilization efforts to ensure a safe voting environment for the 18 September 2005 Afghan National Parliamentary Elections. After Operation Whalers, Shah was unable to stage attacks in Afghanistan again.[2]

Shah was killed during a shootout with Pakistan Armed Forces in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in April 2008, after failing to stop at a security checkpoint whilst transporting a kidnapped trader.[12] An official from Kunar Province stated that Shah had been the "most wanted terrorist in Kunar province."[12]


  1. ^ Lisa Myers & the NBC Investigative Unit (27 December 2005). "An interview with a Taliban commander". MSNBC. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Darack, Ed (2010). Victory Point: Operations Red Wings and Whalers – The Marine Corps' Battle for Freedom in Afghanistan. Penguin Group. ISBN 978-0-425-23259-0.
  3. ^ Unknown Photographer, Photograph of Ahmad Shah,, retrieved 6 February 2012
  4. ^ Unknown Photographer, Photograph of Ahmad Shah,, retrieved 6 February 2012
  5. ^ Unknown Photographer, Photograph of Ahmad Shah,, retrieved 6 February 2012
  6. ^ Unknown Photographer, Photograph of Ahmad Shah,, retrieved 6 February 2012
  7. ^ Naylor, Sean D. (18 June 2007). "Surviving SEAL tells story of deadly mission". Army Times. Retrieved 21 July 2008.
  8. ^ Matt Dupee (17 April 2008). "Bara bin Malek Front commander killed in Pakistani shootout". long war journal. Archived from the original on 26 December 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
  9. ^ Unknown, Operation Red Wings,, archived from the original on 14 January 2014, retrieved 18 January 2014
  10. ^ a b Darack, Ed (14 December 2010), "Operation Red Wings: What Really Happened?", Marine Corps Gazette (January 2011), 62–65, archived from the original on 19 January 2011, retrieved 8 February 2012
  11. ^ McGirk, Tim (11 July 2005). "How the Shepherd Saved the SEAL- Page 2, "5 to 1 ratio"". Time Magazine. Retrieved 9 February 2012.
  12. ^ a b