Dadullah (1966 – May 13, 2007) was the Taliban's senior military commander in Afghanistan until his death in 2007.[2] He was also known as Maulavi or Mullah Dadullah Akhund (Pashto: ملا دادالله آخوند). He also earned the nickname of Lang, meaning "lame" (as in Timur Lang), because of a leg he lost during fighting.[3]

Dadullah Akhund
ملا دادالله آخوند
Mullah Dadullah.png
BornAround 1967[1]
Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan[1]
DiedMay 13, 2007 (aged 41)
Helmand province
AllegianceFlag of the Taliban.svg Taliban
Years of service1994–2007
Battles/warsSoviet–Afghan War
Afghan civil war
War in Afghanistan

An ethnic Pashtun from the Kakar tribe of Kandahar Province, he was known as "The Butcher", even among fellow Talibans, for his outbursts of violence, notably in cutting men's heads off, as per some even being stripped of his command at least two times by Mullah Omar due to his extreme behavior.[4]

According to the United Nations' list of entities belonging to or associated with the Al-Qaeda organization, he had been the Taliban's Minister of Construction.[5] He was killed by British and German special forces.

Early lifeEdit

Dadullah belonged to the Kakar tribe of Pashtuns. Educated in a madrassa in Balochistan,[6] he was a follower of Deobandi Sunni Islam.[7] He lost a leg while fighting with the Afghan mujahideen against Soviet occupation in the 1980s.[8] He eventually got a prosthetic limb from an hospital in Karachi.[9]

He was a member of the Taliban's 10-man leadership council before the US-led invasion in 2001. He was reportedly a close aide to Mohammed Omar, the leader of the Taliban. In 1999–2000, he led the suppression of a revolt by Hazaras in Bamyan province.[10] In January 2001, Dadullah's forces fought a Hazara insurgency in the Yakaolang area. On March 10, 2001, he supervised the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, which had been ordered by Omar.[11] When the Taliban regime fell in December 2001, Dadullah escaped capture by Northern Alliance forces in Kunduz province.[8]

Fight post 2001Edit

Rumors that Dadullah may be headed to recapture the city with as many as 8,000 Taliban fighters, following the November 2001 Battle of Mazar-i-Sharif, a thousand American ground forces were airlifted into the city.[12]

He allegedly participated (by giving orders via cell phone) in the murder of Ricardo Munguia on March 27, 2003. In 2005 he was sentenced in absentia to life in prison, along with three others, by Pakistan for the attempted murder of a member of Pakistan's parliament, Muhammad Khan Sherani of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam party. Sherani, an opponent of the Taliban, survived an IED attack in his home constituency of Balochistan in November, 2004.[13]

A "Western intelligence source" claimed Dadullah may have been operating out of Quetta, Pakistan.[14] Others, including the Pakistani government, claimed he was operating near Kandahar, Afghanistan. In 2006, he claimed to have 12,000 men and to control 20 districts in the former Taliban heartland in the southern provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul and Orūzgān.[15]

Dadullah had reportedly been a central figure in the recruitment of Pakistani nationals to the Taliban[10] and was also one of the main Taliban spokesmen, frequently meeting with Al-Jazeera television reporters.[16] In the summer of 2006, he was reportedly sent by Omar to South Waziristan to convince local Pashtun insurgents to agree to a truce with Pakistan.[17] In October 2006 it was rumored[18] that the Afghan government was considering giving control of its defense ministry over to Dadullah as part of a reconciliation plan with the Taliban to stop the ongoing insurgency.

Dadullah was linked to massacres of Shi'a, the scorched earth policy of Shi'a villages in 2001 (which he boasted about once on the radio), and the summary execution of men suspected of throwing hand grenades into his compound in 2001 (they were hanged at one of the main roundabouts). According to an interview he gave to the BBC, he had hundreds of suicide bombers waiting for his orders to launch an offensive against NATO troops.[2]

Dadullah oversaw Taliban negotiations for the hostage-taking of Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo and his two Afghan assistants in March 2007. Mastrogiacomo's driver was later beheaded. Mastrogiacomo was reportedly exchanged for five senior Taliban leaders, including Ustad Yasir, Abdul Latif Hakimi, Mansoor Ahmad, a brother of Dadullah, and two commanders identified as Hamdullah and Abdul Ghaffar. The Taliban threatened to kill the interpreter Ajmal Naqshbandi, one of the two Afghan assistants, on March 29, 2007, unless the Kabul government freed two Taliban prisoners.[19] Ajmal was later beheaded after the Afghan government refused to free any more Taliban prisoners. According to Asadullah Khalid, the governor of Kandahar Province, "Mullah Dadullah was the backbone of the Taliban. He was a brutal and cruel commander who killed and beheaded Afghan civilians."[20]


Afghan officials reported on May 13, 2007, that Dadullah was killed the previous evening in Helmand Province in a raid by joint Afghan and NATO forces known to have included C Squadron, Special Boat Service (SBS), a British special forces unit, after he left his "sanctuary" for a meeting with fellow commanders, in southern Afghanistan.[21] Some reports indicate Dadullah was killed in the Gershk district, while others claim he was killed near the Sangin and Nari Saraj district.[22] Asadullah Khalid, the governor of Kandahar province, put the body of Dadullah on display at his official residence. The body appeared to have three bullet wounds, two in the torso and one in the back of the head. The Taliban named Mansoor Dadullah (Mullah Bakht), Dadullah's younger brother, as his replacement.[23]

On June 7, 2007, the Taliban said that Dadullah's body had been returned to them, in exchange for four Afghan health ministry workers who had been held hostage, and had been buried by his family in Kandahar. The Taliban said that a fifth hostage had been beheaded because Dadullah's body was not returned quickly enough.[24][25]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Frank Shanty. Counterterrorism: From the Cold War to the War on Terror. ABC-CLIO. p. 275. ISBN 9781598845457.
  2. ^ a b Afghan Taleban commander killed, BBC News, May 13, 2007
  3. ^ Malkasian, Carter (2021). The American War in Afghanistan: A History. Oxford University Press. pp. 116–117.
  4. ^ Coghlan, Tom (2012). "The Taliban in Helmand: An Oral History". In Giustozzi, Antonio (ed.). Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field. Hurst Publishers. p. 138.
  5. ^ John R. Bolton (2003). "Denied Persons Pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution". United States Federal Registry. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
  6. ^ Silinsky, Mark (2014). The Taliban: Afghanistan’s Most Lethal Insurgents. ABC-Clio. p. 121.
  7. ^ Deobandi Islam: The Religion of the Taliban U. S. Navy Chaplain Corps, 15 October 2001
  8. ^ a b The Taleban's most feared commander, BBC News, May 19, 2006
  9. ^ Yousafzai, Sami (7 February 2006). "In the Footsteps of Zarqawi". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 2013-11-23.
  10. ^ a b The Specter of Mullah Dadullah Archived 2006-07-11 at the Wayback Machine, June 13, 2006
  11. ^ Maley, William (2002). The Afghanistan Wars. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 240–241. ISBN 978-0-333-80291-5.
  12. ^ Khan, M. Ismail. Dawn, Mazar falls to Alliance: Taliban says they're regrouping, November 10, 2001
  13. ^ Fugitive Taleban leader sentenced, BBC News, December 29, 2005
  14. ^ Across the border from Britain's troops, Taliban rises again, The Guardian, May 27, 2006
  15. ^ Afghanistan: Taleban's second coming, BBC News, June 2, 2006
  16. ^ Captured Taliban leader appears on Al-Jazeera[permanent dead link], The Jerusalem Post, May 29, 2006
  17. ^ Omar role in truce reinforces fears that Pakistan 'caved in' to Taliban, The Daily Telegraph, September 24, 2006
  18. ^ Taliban Rising, The Nation, October 12, 2006
  19. ^ Taliban leader threatens to kill Afghan hostage, Reuters, March 29, 2007
  20. ^ Top Taliban commander killed in Afghanistan, The Daily Telegraph, May 13, 2007
  21. ^ Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah killed, Channel 4, May 13, 2007
  22. ^ "Mullah Dadullah, Taliban top commander, killed in Helmand". Long War Journal. 13 May 2007.
  23. ^ Taliban Names Replacement After Death of Top Commander, CBC News, May 14, 2007
  24. ^ "Taleban handed commander's body", BBC News, June 7, 2007.
  25. ^ The Blotter: Afghan Trade: Four Hostages for Body of Dead Taliban