Abdul Qayyum Zakir, or Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul, is a citizen of Afghanistan previously held in the United States Guantanamo Bay detainment camps, in Cuba. His Guantanamo Internment Serial Number was 8. JTF-GTMO analysts estimate he was born in 1973, in Helmand, and grew up in northern Afghanistan.
The Times reports that he was transferred from US custody in Guantanamo to Afghan custody, in the American built wing of the Pul-e-Charkhi prison, from where he was subsequently released.
Following his release, Zakir rose through the ranks of the Taliban, running military operations in Helmand Province before becoming the Taliban’s overall military commander. In 2014 he stepped down, reportedly following an internal leadership dispute.
Inconsistent identification: On March 4, 2010, senior Afghan intelligence officials told the Associated Press that the captive known as “Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul” was really “Abdul Qayyum”, and that Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul had been his father’s name.
They reported his nom de guerre is “Qayyum Zakir”. Anand Gopal reports that “Zakir” was the name used on the Taliban’s radio network and that his real name is “Abdul Qayyum”.
-He was named Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul on most of the documents published by the Department of Defense.
-He was named Mullah Y Abdhullah on the Summary of Evidence memo prepared for his 2007 annual Administrative Review Board.
Post-transfer activity: After his transfer to Afghanistan, Zakir is reported to have been transferred to the American wing of the Pul-e-Charkhi prison. The Times quoted United Kingdom Member of Parliament Patrick Mercer’s surprise that Afghan authorities released Zakir.
Mercer, a member of the British Parliament’s counter-terrorism subcommittee, said:
“The Americans presumably let him go from Guantánamo Bay in order for him to be kept in custody in Afghanistan. We need to know why the Afghan authorities released him.”
The Times also quoted Peter M. Ryan, an American lawyer who represented another former captive who had been held in Pul-e-Charkhi. He described the Afghan review procedure in Pul-e-Charkhi as “chaotic”, and more influenced by tribal politics than by guilt or innocence.
British officials believed Zakir became the Taliban’s operations commander in southern Afghanistan soon after his release and blamed him for masterminding an increase in roadside attacks against British and American troops.
The New York Times reported that Zakir led a December 2008-January 2009 delegation to the Pakistani Taliban to convince them to refocus their efforts away from the Pakistani government and towards the American-led forces in Afghanistan.
The Christian Science Monitor reported that Zakir was involved in the creation of the Taliban “rule book”.
On March 9, 2009, the Department of Defense reported that he had emerged as a Taliban leader following his release.
On March 1, 2010, The News International reported that Abdul Qayyum Zakir was part of the Taliban’s Quetta Shura, and that he had been captured in recent raids along with nine other leaders, the most senior of which was Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
In addition to Baradar, the raids were reported to have captured Mullah Mir Muhammad, Mullah Abdul Salam Abdul Salam, Maulvi Abdul Kabir, Mullah Muhammad Hassan, Mullah Abdul Rauf, Mullah Ahmad Jan Akhundzada, Mullah Muhammad Younis.
On March 4, 2010, the Associated Press reported “two senior Afghan intelligence officials” claimed Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul had emerged to be a senior Taliban leader, and that he was under consideration to replace Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar as number two in the Taliban’s chain of command, after the recent arrest of the latter in Pakistan.
A Newsweek article in mid-May 2011 detailed Zakir’s operations as military leader of the Taliban, operating in Quetta without Pakistani interference while organizing a major springtime offensive in Afghanistan.
The Wall Street Journal reported in April 2014 that Zakir had stepped down as the Taliban’s chief military commander, in part because of tensions with other Taliban leaders who did not share his opposition to peace talks by the Taliban with the Afghan Government. A statement from the Taliban reported that Zakir had stepped down due to “ill health”.
Zakir was succeeded by Ibrahim Sadar. Following his removal, an Afghan official claimed that Mullah Zakir had been placed under house arrest by Pakistani Intelligence, this was denied by the Taliban.