A German citizen thought to be a military advisor to the Taliban in Helmand province has been detained by Afghan officials. The man appears to be part of the Taliban’s elite “Red Unit.”
Police in Helmand province in Afghanistan have arrested a German national as well as three Afghan Taliban fighters in the Gereshk district of Helmand province.
The German man was described as having “a long beard, wearing a black turban,” according to a spokesman for the local government.
Gereshk police chief Ismail Khplwak told the AFP news agency that the man was the “military advisor of Mullah Nasir,” the now deceased commander of the Taliban’s elite “Red Unit” in Helmand.
There has been no confirmation from the German authorities yet.
‘Red Unit’ behind deadly attacks
The “Red Unit,” often described as the Taliban’s special forces, is responsible for several deadly attacks on civilians, Afghan police and the armed forces.
At the beginning of December, the US announced that Nasir, also known as Mullah Shah Wali, or Haji Nasir, had been killed by Afghan forces. Although the NATO combat mission ended in late December 2014, US and other NATO forces remain in Afghanistan to train local forces and conduct operations against al-Qaeda.
While the conflicts in Syria and Iraq have attracted a large number of fighters from Europe, it is rare for Europeans to get involved with insurgents in Afghanistan. Most foreign fighters in Afghanistan hail from Pakistan, Chechnya and Uzbekistan.
The southern province of Helmand, which is known for its lucrative opium production, remains a Taliban stronghold. The Islamist group controls 10 of the province’s 14 districts.
Given the Taliban’s resilience, which has led to astring of attacks in recent weeks, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani recently proposed a contentious peace deal “without preconditions.”