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Taliban Leader Captured

Pakistani, U.S. intelligence nab Mullah Omar's Deputy.

7:35 AM, Feb 16, 2010 • By BILL ROGGIO
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Pakistani and U.S. intelligence services nabbed the Afghan Taliban's second in command during a raid in the port city of Karachi. The New York Times broke the story last night:

The Taliban’s top military commander was captured several days ago in Karachi, Pakistan, in a secret joint operation by Pakistani and American intelligence forces, according to American government officials.

The commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, is an Afghan described by American officials as the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the American-led war in Afghanistan started more than eight years ago. He ranks second in influence only to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder and a close associate of Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks.

The arrest and interrogation of Baradar, as the New York Times notes, is a major victory for the U.S. as it is on the offensive in Helmand province in Afghanistan. As operational commander of the Taliban, Baradar directs the day-to-day business of the Taliban and is in close contact with the Taliban's executive council, its shadow governors, and military commanders. He should provide a treasure trove of information, if the CIA is allowed to interrogate him that is.

But his arrest also raises some interesting questions. The Inter-Services Intelligence agency has long been accused of aiding/sheltering the Afghan Taliban. The Pakistani government and military have long denied that the Taliban's top leadership (called the Quetta Shura for the Pakistani city where it was based) is operating in Pakistan. And the government denied rumors the Quetta Shura relocated to Karachi. Then, lo and behold, Baradar is arrested in Karachi. Why was Baradar arrested now? Is this a signal that the Pakistani military is dropping its support for the Quetta Shura? If not, why haven't the rest of the senior Taliban leaders been rounded up? 

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