Taliban have adopted pre-emptive strikes, report says

Taliban intelligence operatives have resorted to trickery in a bid to locate and eliminate commanders who defected to other government forces, according to Afghan intelligence officials.

The officials, who are familiar with the security forces’ tracking, said the infiltrators disguise themselves in the uniforms of former members of government forces as they plot an ambush for the Taliban in several provinces. The mission in March of this year led to the deaths of five members of the Afghan National Army’s 205th Corps, according to a report in the Independent Journal Review. The officials believe at least one of the insurgents was the son of a key anti-Taliban commander.

“The infiltrators would give [the commander’s] wife perfume to wear so they didn’t lose any sweat, and would also use plainclothes guys to approach, look around and find where their target was,” a key intelligence official told IJR. The source said the plotters, who also wore khaki uniforms with one leg in a military boot to make it look like they were soldiers, provided coordinates of the location to their targets to other Taliban leaders.

The commandos used the information to direct ammunition and explosives to the location of their targets before the insurgents ambushed them, leaving all but one of the insurgents dead, said the intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. The double agent knew at least some of the insurgent commanders’ secret locations, they said.

The Taliban frequently have executed former members of the security forces during their violent assaults, even when the individuals fled to government-controlled territory. However, the reported activity by Taliban operatives to hunt down and eliminate members of anti-Taliban forces who had defected to other forces highlights their ongoing influence on local forces.

On Sunday, Taliban commander Maulvi Idilullah Abdur Rauf was killed in a village near Ghazni city after he was tracked by intelligence agents using heat-sensing tech in the area, according to a local official with the provincial police. In April, he and other insurgents were given a choice of death or being offered a settlement to surrender, the official said.

The Taliban has made inroads into some areas that were previously under government control and secured by international forces. The Islamic State’s local affiliate also has captured and maintained territory in several provinces.

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