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Treasury designates Taliban liaison to al Qaeda
The Treasury Department has added a senior Taliban leader, Maulawi Abdul Rashid Baluch, to the US government's list of specially designated global terrorists. As of mid-2013, Rashid "served as a Taliban liaison officer to al Qaeda and was responsible for planning meetings between Taliban senior leadership and AQ members in Karachi, Pakistan."
"Today's action highlights the Taliban's continuing ties to al Qaeda in Pakistan, its destabilizing criminal activity in Afghanistan, and its continued efforts to undermine US interests and harm US personnel in Afghanistan," Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam J. Szubin was quoted as saying in Treasury's press release.
Szubin continued: "Maulawi Abdul Rashid Baluch has been closely involved in violent attacks and illicit activities. We will continue to target Taliban leaders like Rashid to disrupt the Taliban's terrorist operations and its ability to raise, move, and store funds."
The short biography Treasury provides for Rashid highlights the multiple roles he played prior to his arrest by Afghan security forces in July 2014, from waging guerrilla warfare against NATO and Afghan forces to narcotics trafficking.
"Rashid served in leadership, logistical, and financial support roles for the group since at least 2007 and was the Taliban's Provincial Shadow Governor of Nimruz Province, Afghanistan, from early 2008 until late 2012," Treasury states.
Rashid has been tied to various specific attacks against US and Aghan forces. In 2013, a US soldier was killed by an IED that Rashid had ordered implanted in Nimruz Province. He "transported IEDs to Afghanistan that were used by the Taliban to target Coalition Forces." And, in early 2008, Rashid and "a Taliban associate facilitated the movement of three suicide bombers for attacks in Nimruz Province."
Rashid has also helped deploy "suicide bombers to conduct vehicle-borne IED attacks on senior Afghan government officials and non-governmental organization workers."
Treasury says that Rashid worked with another senior Taliban leader: Mohammad Naim Barich. The pair "agreed to share all profits the Taliban received from narcotics trade and commercial fuel convoy taxation in two districts in southwestern Afghanistan to support Taliban operations."
Treasury added Barich, the Taliban's shadow governor in the Helmand province, to the US government's narcotics kingpin list in 2012.
Barich issued a decree in March 2012, saying the "poppy funds will permit the Taliban to survive" and, therefore, "must be protected at all costs." His narcotics smuggling operations extended from Helmand into Pakistan and Iran. A map released by Treasury showing Barich's smuggling operations can be seen on the right.
[Source: By Thomas Joscelyn, The Long War Journal, NJ, 26Jun15]
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