Coalition and Afghan special operations forces targeted “a high-profile attack facilitator” for the Taj Mir Jawad Network during a raid in eastern Afghanistan yesterday. Taj Mir Jawad is a senior commander for the Haqqani Network and also commands the Kabul Attack Network, a jihadist alliance that operates in and around the Afghan capital.
Two “insurgents” were captured during yesterday’s raid that targeted the facilitator in the Gardez district in Paktia province, the International Security Assistance Force reported today. ISAF said the “high-profile attack facilitator” is “responsible for providing weapons and funding for his fellow insurgent fighters” and “is currently gathering supplies and fighters for a future attack against Afghan and Coalition forces.”
In addition to running the Haqqani Network subgroup that is named after him, Taj Mir Jawad also co-leads the Kabul Attack Network along with Dawood (or Daud), a Taliban commander, military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal in August 2010. Dawood is the Taliban’s shadow governor for Kabul. In the US military files released by Wikileaks several years ago, Taj Mir Jawad is identified as a top Haqqani Network leader.
The Kabul Attack Network operates in the capital and in the surrounding provinces of Wardak, Logar, Nangarhar, Laghman, Kapisa, Khost, Paktia, and Paktika. It has executed numerous high-profile attacks in the capital over the years. Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and the Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin also participate in operations directed by the Kabul Attack network.
Besides running his subgroup and co-leading the Kabul Attack Network, Jawad also serves as a senior Taliban propagandist and is believed to be one of the personalities behind Zabibullah Mujahid, the spokesman for the Taliban who publishes at Voice of Jihad. The Haqqani Network, which is active in eastern, southern, and central Afghanistan, operates under the aegis of the Taliban and releases propaganda through Voice of Jihad.
ISAF has directly targeted the Taj Mir Jawad Network at least once before. In April 2011, ISAF named the group for the first time when it announced a raid that resulted in the capture of a Taliban commander linked to the group [see Threat Matrix report, ISAF targets Taj Mir Jawad Network in Khost].
The Haqqani Network remains a capable foe in Afghanistan despite the surge of American troops that began in 2010 and ended last year. The US did not send a significant number of troops into the Haqqani Network’s heartlands in the east, and instead focused efforts on the Taliban in parts of Helmand and Kandahar provinces. US commanders said that the Afghan security forces would have to deal with the Haqqani Network, likely long after the US withdraws from Afghanistan.
The US has also eased pressure on the Haqqani Network in its sanctuaries in Pakistan. Despite years of efforts and promises from top US officials and military officers, including former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, that Pakistan would launch a military operation in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan, US officials have given up on putting pressure on Pakistan to take action.
Additionally, although top leaders of the Haqqani Network, including its operational leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, used to be frequently targeted by CIA drone strikes in North Waziristan, targeting of these leaders appears to have dropped off. The last Haqqani Network leader to be hit by a drone strike, Jan Baz Zadran, was killed in October 2011. There have been no reported successful drone strikes against Haqqani Network leaders or commanders since Zadran’s death.