Brutal even by Afghan standards, this bearded fellow is Mullah Dadullah, one of the top Taliban commanders in Afghanistan. The one-legged Dadullah is thought to be a prime force behind the resurgence of the Taliban this past year, transplanting Iraqi tactics of beheadings and suicide bombings.
Dadullah was relieved of his Taliban command after massacring hundreds of civilians in 1998, but he was back within a year, needed for battle against the Northern Alliance. He is now believed to be in the south, waging a bloody guerrilla war against NATO and allied troops. He has narrowly escaped death and capture and has been seriously wounded three times.
A year ago, Dadullah boasted of having "200 young men who are ready to sacrifice and carry out suicide bombings against the U.S. and its allies." It was not an idle boast; once rare in Afghanistan, suicide attacks in 2006 jumped sixfold to 117. The bombings helped push coalition deaths there to a record 191 last yearnearly a 50 percent increase. Other Taliban tactics include terrorizing government schools. In the past year, its followers murdered at least 41 teachers and forced 208 schools to close, according to the Afghan education minister.
An ethnic Pashtun like Taliban leader Mullah Omar, Dadullah is thought to be one of Omar's most trusted aides and has increasingly acted as a spokesman for the group. In a videotape posted to the Web December 28, Dadullah was asked about reports that the Kabul government was holding truce negotiations with the Taliban. "This is inconceivable and unacceptable," he shot back. "Mark my words: Whoever does such a thing we will behead him, along with the Americans, Allah willing."
For another look at Dadullah and other "Warlords of Afghanistan," check out the work of graphic artist Matt Weems and his coasters (yes, drink coasters).
Photo Credits: Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)