Afghanistan – Gizab’s Taliban Commander captured

Australian Special Forces and their Afghan partner force, the Provincial Police Reserve, have captured the commander of the Taliban forces in Gizab.

Taliban commander Mullah Atiqullah and two of his close associates were captured on the afternoon of April 30, in an Afghan-led operation.

Commander of Joint Task Force 633, Major General John Cantwell, said Mullah Atiqullah became active as the senior Taliban leader in Gizab late last year.

“Mullah Atiqullah was in charge of trying to establish Gizab as a safe haven for the Taliban,” Major General Cantwell said.

“He failed because the people who live there were not prepared to tolerate his oppression and intimidation.

“Australia is in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people, and that is exactly what we did in this case. The people of Gizab stood up to the Taliban and then sought and received assistance from the Provincial Police Reserve, supported by our Special Operations Task Group.”

Major General Cantwell said the trust shown by the Gizab community in the Afghan National Security Forces was key to the success in the region over the past two weeks.

“On the same day as the capture of Mullah Atiqullah, Gizab locals led Provincial Police Reserve and Special Operations Task Group members to a large Taliban munitions cache.

“That cache included six 107 mm rockets, eight 82 mm mortars and an anti-tank mine, which could have been used to cause significant harm to Afghan villagers, members of the Afghan National Security Forces and ISAF troops,” Major General Cantwell said.

The capture of Mullah Atiqullah and his close associates was the culminating event in the community uprising that began on April 21.

Mullah Atiqullah was transferred to the custody of Dutch forces, before subsequently being transferred into the custody of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security for prosecution in accordance with Afghanistan’s laws.

For more information on the Australian Defence Force’s operations in Afghanistan go to: http://www.defence/gov/au/op/afghanistan/index.htm

Gizab imagery is available at:

Media Note:

Major General John Cantwell is available for interview Saturday, 8 May 2010 from 2pm-4pm AEST.

Media Contact: Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 66

Press release
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,
Canberra, Australia