Taliban Commander Mullah Baradar Captured by US-Pakistani Forces
February 16, 2010
(ChattahBox)—The spy agencies of Pakistan and the United States captured Afghanistan’s top Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in the Pakistani port city of Karachi several days ago. And the Taliban leader, second in command to the elusive one-eyed cleric Mullah Omar, is now undergoing interrogation. A U.S. official called Baradar’s capture “significant.” And his removal from the battlefield should weaken Taliban resistance to the NATO offensive now underway in Southern Afghanistan in the Taliban haven of Majah in the Helmand Province.
A Pakistani official confirmed to Reuters that the Taliban military commander was in Pakistani custody. “Yes, it’s true. He has been arrested. He’s in our custody.”
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee praised the joint effort between Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency and the United States’ CIA. “It’s very clear to me that the Pakistanis understand that this fight is for them and it’s a fight for everybody who is going to stand up against terrorism,” said Kerry.
According to a recent Newsweek profile of Mullah Baradar, he is known as a skilled military leader, who devised the Taliban’s guerrilla ambush strategy and use of IED’s against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Baradar, who hails from the same tribe as President Karzai, runs the day-to-day operations of Taliban activities in Afghanistan and controls the group’s finances:
“Baradar is perhaps best-known for allegedly telling military commanders at a meeting in Pakistan last year not to confront U.S. soldiers and their superior firepower, but to focus on guerrilla tactics such as small ambushes with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades and the planting of “flowers” – Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) – along the roadsides. Keep your weapons on your backs and be on your motorcycles,” he is said to have told them. “America has greater military strength, but we have greater faith and commitment.”
And Baradar controls much of the drug trafficking in Helmand Province, which finances Taliban operations:
“It is key that he controls the Taliban’s treasury—hundreds of millions of dollars in -narcotics protection money, ransom payments, highway tolls, and “charitable donations,” largely from the Gulf. “He commands all military, political, religious, and financial power…”
The Afghan Taliban have denied that their leader has been captured. “He has not been captured. They want to spread this rumor just to divert the attention of people from their defeats in Marjah and confuse the public,” Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters.
Meanwhile, the 42-year-old Baradar Mullah is being interrogated by Pakistani and U.S. intelligence officials, but it’s not known if he is giving up any actionable intelligence.
See Reuters for more.