Drone Strike Kills Afghan ISIS Leader

Disaffected mullah quit Taliban last month
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2015 3:54 AM CST
Drone Strike Kills Afghan ISIS Leader
A group of former Taliban fighters released a video last month in which they pledged allegiance to ISIS.   (PointingInTheRightDirection)

A disaffected Taliban commander has been killed less than a month after he pledged allegiance to ISIS. Mullah Abdul Rauf was killed yesterday in Helmand province in a strike that tribal elders say hit a car traveling across the desert and killed around six people, the BBC reports. Rauf—who was captured by US forces in 2001 and spent six years in Guantanamo Bay before escaping from house arrest in Kabul—is believed to have become a recruiter for ISIS after falling out with Taliban leaders last month, according to the BBC, which notes that this was one of the first strikes under NATO's new mandate in Afghanistan.

Even before Rauf changed sides, there were reports of groups of Afghan fighters trading the Taliban's white flag for the black one of ISIS, though it's not clear how big a foothold the group has gained in the country. "In the context of an insurgency that kills thousands of Afghan national security forces every year, scattered reports about a few people in the mountains wearing black is not an immediate concern," an analyst in Afghanistan with International Crisis Group tells the Guardian, though he adds that rumors of leader Mullah Omar's death have deepened rifts within the Taliban—and there are suspicions about whether the group gave away Rauf's location to NATO. (More ISIS stories.)

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