Where IS Abdul Rauf Khadim and Whose Side IS He On?

All of the ladies attending the ball
Are requested to gaze in the faces
Found on the dance cards

Please then remember
And don’t get too close to one special one
He will take your defenses and run

So we change partners
Time to change partners
You must change partners

Lyrics by Stephen Stills

When last we left Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim, only two short weeks ago, he had suddenly appeared on the scene in Afghanistan as a recruiter for ISIS. That was after he had spent time on the Taliban’s Quetta Shura as one of Mullah Omar’s top advisors. That was after he escaped from Afghanistan’s Pul-e-Charkhi prison. That was after he had been transferred to Pul-e-Charkhi from Guantanamo, where he was “substantially exploited“.

Today, Pakistan’s Express Tribune is reporting that the Mullah Omar of ISIS, none other than Abu Bakr Baghdadi himself, has named Rauf the head of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, which, in ISIS-speak, is now known as the Khorasan Province of the Islamic State. Khorasan also includes Pakistan and selected other surroundings according to ISIS.

That is a very interesting development, especially since earlier this week, there was a report that Rauf had been arrested by the Taliban. Here is Adam Weinstein, writing at Gawker:

The Taliban, bane of America’s post-9/11 Afghanistan operations, said Wednesday that they captured Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim, a renegade insurgent and ex-Guantanamo detainee who was in Afghanistan recruiting for the Islamic State, the latest parry in a messy internecine conflict between violent Islamist regimes.

The independent Pajhwok news agency of Afghanistan reports that Khadim—who had previously been identified in the media as an ex-Taliban footsoldier who sought revenge against the U.S. after his detention in Gitmo—was arrested, along with 45 armed followers, after attempting to turn local militants against the Taliban and win their allegiance for ISIS’s attempts to build a global caliphate.

However, not everyone was convinced of that report. From Thomas Joscelyn, writing at Long War Journal, also on Wednesday, we have this:

Still, Khadim has been an effective commander and the Khorasan province is already active in southern Afghanistan. There have been skirmishes between Baghdadi’s followers and their rivals in the Taliban, which is clearly gunning for Khadim. One report says that the Taliban has captured Khadim and dozens of his followers, but that has not been confirmed.

Today’s announcement of Rauf as governor of Khorasan marked a rather rapid promotion for him, as a report by Joscelyn on Monday noted that Rauf had been named deputy governor.

Oh, and while you’re trying to sort out just whose side Rauf is on, or whose prison he is in this week, you can get even more confused about funding for ISIS and where it is coming from. Iran seems to be enjoying that particular tidbit.

Many years ago, Jim got a BA in Radiation Biophysics from the University of Kansas. He then got a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at UC Berkeley and mouse retroviruses at Stanford. He joined biosys in Palo Alto, producing insect parasitic nematodes for pest control. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Gainesville, FL and founded a company that eventually became Entomos. He left the firm as it reorganized into Pasteuria Biosciences and chose not to found a new firm due a clash of values with venture capital investors, who generally lack all values. Upon leaving, he chose to be a stay at home dad, gentleman farmer, cook and horse wrangler. He discovered the online world through commenting at Glenn Greenwald’s blog in the Salon days and was involved in the briefly successful Chris Dodd move to block the bill to renew FISA. He then went on to blog at Firedoglake and served a brief stint as evening editor there. When the Emptywheel blog moved out of Firedoglake back to standalone status, Jim tagged along and blogged on anthrax, viruses, John Galt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is now a mostly lapsed blogger looking for a work-around to the depressing realization that pointing out the details of government malfeasance and elite immunity has approximately zero effect.

10 replies
  1. Don Bacon says:

    -ARK sent from Gitmo back to Afghanistan
    +US money funding Islamic State
    +Islamic State organizing and recruiting in Afghanistan
    +US has classified Afghan forces status reports
    +so IS is recruiting trained Afghan soldiers w/weapons
    =Stay tuned – I see a new “necessary” war

  2. emptywheel says:


    Why can’t you just let the spooks have their fun? Why do you have to be so persnickety about “sides”?

    • Jim White says:

      Come to think of it, this confusion about “sides” is very similar to the mystery of whether someone is an offensive lineman or an eligible receiver. Some designations are just meant to be exploited, don’t you know?

    • wallace says:

      quote”Why do you have to be so persnickety about “sides”unquote


      Says one rooting for group A of elite corporate Murkn gladiators while making a side bet with bmaz which “side” will win SB 2015 and which Michigan cult beer is the best to serve with Okra based salsa to serve during half time Katy Perry extravaganzas while viewing the 2015 US equivilent of 2nd century Roman competition on the 50″ teh veh.

      persnickety. Hahahahahasha. emptywheel..you kill me.

  3. Garrett says:

    I thought we are too ignorant of the politics, to be making reliable determinations about what is true and false, in obviously manipulative and propagandistic media stories.

    I’d change my opinion a little bit here. The Long War Journal stuff can just be tossed.

    • Jim White says:

      But how do you know that this post isn’t a celebration of the spooks dancing with constantly changing partners? You know, where the concept of “sides” is ephemeral at best?

  4. P J Evans says:

    Q: Where IS Abdul Rauf Khadim and Whose Side IS He On?
    A: I don’t know, and probably the one that offers him the most money and power.

  5. TomVet says:

    The Stephen Stills lyrics make a nice segue into this report. I would compare it to a macro shell game with way more than 3 shells.
    However, I think CIA still has the pea in its pocket.

  6. TomVet says:

    A little historical perspective.

    If you remember from your days in grade school, civilization is said to have sprung up in that region of the world around the Tigris and Euphrates river basin. The first system of laws, the Code of Hammurabi comes from there also.

    Those tribes over there have been running their intrigues and double- and triple-crosses for thousands of years longer than we have. I’m sure they consider us complete amateurs. It’s why the Saudis are so good at the game.

    Our incompetent “American Exceptionalist” boobs forget this at their peril.

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