The Cruelest Taliban

Pir Agha set out to make a reputation by slaughtering the family of the man once reputed to be the most ruthless Taliban in Afghanistan. He succeeded.

02.11.16 5:01 AM ET

QUETTA, Pakistan — Afghanistan has been known for some brutal characters—notorious killers, torturers, massacrers (if that’s a word), and committers of crimes against humanity, including against countless innocent Afghans.

In the 1990s, Mullah Dadullah was generally regarded as the worst of the worst. He burned whole villages and seemed to think nothing of killing even infants—an offense that caused the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar to dismiss Dadullah in 1997.

When the Taliban government was ousted by the U.S.-led military invasion in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States by Afghan-based al Qaeda, Dadullah made a comeback. In 2006, taking a page from the barbaric practices of Abu Musab al Zarqawi in Iraq, he started chopping off the heads of supposed enemies and infidels.

Mullah Dadullah was killed in 2007 in a CIA-led operation in Helmand province near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

But there is a saying in this country that cruelty will always find a replacement, and now we have a pretty good idea who that is.

Mullah Dadullah’s successor in savagery is known as Pir Agha, a relatively low-ranking commander of the Afghan Taliban fast becoming a symbol of terror and cruelty targeting anyone who dares to challenge or criticize the organization, or, more to the point, his branch of it.

Pir Agha is head of the Taliban’s roving rapid reaction force, which was deployed recently against fighters in southern Afghanistan loyal to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the so-called caliph of the self-declared Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and spreading through Africa that is best known as ISIS.

In that fight, Pir Agha distinguished himself enough to attract the attention of Mullah Mansoor, who has imposed himself as the replacement for the late Mullah Omar in the role of top Taliban leader. Mansoor appointed Pir Agha as his enforcer to fight ISIS and any group disputing his title as “Leader of the Faithful.”

But Pir Agha’s first claim to ruthless fame came when he killed virtually the entire family of none other than Mullah Dadullah, including his younger brother, in Zabul province last year.

“Allah kills and the cruel get rid of the cruel,” an Afghan elder there told The Daily Beast. “Who could believe that the whole family of the Taliban symbol of cruelty, Dadullah, would be killed by the cruel Pir Agha?”

Muhamam Khan Kakar, another local elder, tried to negotiate his brother’s freedom from a mobile prison run by Pir Agha and met him several times. “He has a long beard, sharp, long mustaches, a fat body, and bloody eyes,” Muhamam Khan Kakar told The Daily Beast.

“I have not seen such a horrifying character in my whole 60 years of life,” said Muhamam Khan Kakar. “He has the skin of a human on the outside, but inside he is a dangerous animal. He used to hit and kill prisoners, attacking them like a bird of prey.

“Young boys of the village at the age of 8 to 12 and elders in up to the age of 80,” Muhamam Khan Kakar continued, “had their hands tied with iron chains and were thrown in the back of a truck.”

A man from the village of Solang, who did not want to give his name, said, “Our whole village was arrested by Pir Agha because Mullah Dadullah’s brother spent a night there. We were humiliated and beat up and thrown out in the middle of the night in freezing cold.”

According to another villager who does not want his real name mentioned, “About 1,500 locals were arrested by Pir Agha for belonging to Mullah Dadullah’s tribe, the Kakar.”

Get The Beast In Your Inbox!
By clicking "Subscribe," you agree to have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
Thank You!
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason

Another Afghan villager who wanted to go by the name of Amir Shah says, “At nighttime we tell our kids to go to sleep, and if not, ‘Pir Agha is coming and will eat you.’ The poor kids cover their heads in the blanket.

“Let me tell you what I saw when we were captured by Pir Agha,” Amir Shah says. “We were in the custody of Pir Agha, a tall, fat, long-bearded Taliban commander.”

During that time, someone came to Pir Agha and said a Pakistani (perhaps Burmese) religion scholar named Mufti Abu Zar wanted to surrender to the Taliban.

Mufti Abu Zar was with Chechens and Uzbeks and some others who had pledged to ISIS, but he changed his mind, came to Pir Agha and told him he was disowning the ISIS and al-Baghdadi figures.

Pir Agha told him, “OK, go get your family out of the ISIS-controlled villages.”

Mufti Abu Zar went and, that afternoon, set out with his two wives and about nine children, including two infants, on their way to the checkpoint.

“Pir Agha smiled and said, ‘OK, allow him to pass.’” Then he ordered one of this men to fire a rocket-propelled grenade meant to stop tanks at the family car which had 11 men, women, and children in it.

“I will hate the Taliban forever. I am so sorry, having supported the Taliban until a few months back,” said Amir Shah. “I thought they are soldiers of God. After seeing that, I think they are evil and enemies of God.”

A senior Afghan Taliban leader says Pir Agha has about 1,200 Taliban fighters under his command ranging through Zabul, Urozghan, Loghar, Maidan, and Ghazni provinces.

For local Afghans it is tragic that, after almost 15 years of U.S. and West European intervention, such an author of atrocities is still roaming around and seems able to do anything anywhere he likes.