Sometimes, capturing a Taliban commander requires vast resources and complex operations. Last week in eastern Afghanistan, it hinged on an insurgent’s “improbable stupidity,” as one U.S. official put it.
Mohammad Ashan, a mid-level Taliban commander in Paktika province, strolled toward a police checkpoint in the district of Sar Howza with a wanted poster bearing his own face. He demanded the finder’s fee referenced on the poster: $100.
A biometric scan confirmed that the man in Afghan custody was the insurgent they had been looking for.
“Clearly,” one U.S. official said, “the man is an imbecile.”