Pakistani Taliban's top spokesman captured in Mohmand


maulvi-omar.JPG

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omar.

Pakistani security forces reportedly detained the chief spokesman for Baitullah Mehsud and his Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. A senior aide to Baitullah was also captured in Islamabad on Monday.

Maulvi Omar and two aides were captured in the tribal agency of Mohmand as he was traveling through the region. Omar was captured with the help of tribal leaders, Pakistani intelligence officials told Dawn.

Omar has been the face of the Pakistani Taliban for the past several years. He has been in constant contact with the media and has credited the Taliban with conducting some of the largest attacks inside Pakistan.

Most recently, Omar claimed that Baitullah Mehsud is still alive after Pakistani and US officials claimed Baitullah was killed in the Aug. 5 airstrike that killed his wife. But after being detained, Omar reportedly said Baitullah was killed in the airstrike and that there is conflict in choosing Baitullah's successor, according to Pakistani security officials.

Omar's capture may have been facilitated by the controversy surrounding Baitullah's reported death. Taliban spokesmen and leaders have been contacting the media to state that Baitullah is alive. The increased contact may have provided clues regarding Omar's whereabouts to Pakistani and US intelligence services seeking to dismantle the Taliban in the insurgency-ridden northwest.

The military previously had claimed that Omar was killed during fighting against the Taliban in the Bajaur tribal agency in October 2008. Omar later surfaced and resumed his job as the chief Taliban spokesman.

Top Baitullah commander detained in Islamabad

Omar's capture was preceded by the detention of an important Taliban leader as he sought medical treatment in Islamabad.

Pakistani security forces detained Qari Saifullah, who is said to have been seriously wounded during a recent US Predator strike in South Waziristan.

Saifullah served as a liaison between the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and al Qaeda, as well as a recruiter of suicide bombers, a financier, and a weapons and explosives procurer, reported.

Saifullah also served as a commander of Taliban forces in southern Punjab province. He is thought to have been behind the deadly attacks in Dera Ghazi Khan earlier this year.

According to Geo News, Saifullah and an aide were members of the Qari Hamza Group, which is a branch of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, a Punjabi-Kashmiri terror group backed by Pakistan's military and Inter-Service Intelligence agency. Harkat-ul-Mujahideen was created to fight against the Indians in Kashmir, but its fighters have increasingly been drawn to northwestern Pakistan to join forces with the Taliban and al Qaeda.



Advertisement:


READER COMMENTS: "Pakistani Taliban's top spokesman captured in Mohmand"

Posted by T Ruth at August 18, 2009 5:44 AM ET:

Now thats the good news....and maybe he will tell us what he knows about Baitullah...

And now for the bad news...the Pak Army says it will need months to ready itself for ground operations in Wazoo, maybe even beyond this winter...so, plenty of time for the Taleban to regroup. Read at
http://www.reuters.com/article/asiaCrisis/idUSSP485768

Btw Bill why does one never hear about any Al Qaeda targets at all? Reading Obama's remarks at a recent veterans meet on AQ's HQ in Pakistan begs this question...
http://www.zeenews.com/news556230.html

Posted by Singapore Sightseeing at August 18, 2009 7:49 AM ET:

I just wanna raise a point here.
Why taliban is not finished yet when both Pakistan and US are fighting agaisnt them with huge military force...Pakistan has one of the best armies and no one can deny the force of the US Army...so still why they have not been able to irradicate the Taliban out of Afghanistan...?????

Posted by David M at August 18, 2009 9:41 AM ET:

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 08/18/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

Posted by Gringo at August 18, 2009 4:15 PM ET:

This will be another episode of Catch and Release.

Posted by Cordell at August 18, 2009 4:27 PM ET:

Bill:

Maulvi Omar has just confirmed Baitullah's death according to the BBC:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8207735.stm

Of course he may be just attempting to get better treatment from his interrogators, but I doubt it. Too many days have gone by since the Taliban said that they would release a video confirming the Baitullah was still alive.

The above URL also provides video of Omar's capture.

Posted by Cordell at August 18, 2009 6:55 PM ET:

Bill:

You might wish to provide a link to the following article from Dawn. It provides further evidence of Baitullah's demise.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/provinces/08-fight-for-spoils-splits-taliban-ts-06

Excerpt:

A security official, who sat at the preliminary interrogation of the captured TTP spokesman, Maulvi Omar, quoted him as admitting to problems over succession.

'There is a leadership vacuum within the TTP right now. But let's not get excited. The TTP still has all the elements at its disposal; the money and then men to fight. All they need is a leader,' the senior military officer said.

'The elimination of Baitullah is one big step, but it is still one step towards the elimination of the entire infrastructure. It will take a few years to reach that goal,' the official warned.

Posted by Lorenz Gude at August 19, 2009 6:31 AM ET:

I must say that when US intelligence sources thought Baitullah was dead I thought maybe he really was dead. Now it seems that when things get truly serious the Taliban become unreliable instead of the Pakistani government. :-)

Posted by T Ruth at August 19, 2009 8:49 AM ET:

So if the taliban are unreliable, how can you know whether to believe this guy?Maybe he's telling them what they want to hear...maybe he has other motivations.. Maybe bin Laden is dead too (as Bhutto/Zardari have said more than once) and they're following a deliberate pattern of mystique. Who really knows? Fact is stranger than fiction!

But if its true that he's dead, it shows up the ISI's limitations if they can't come up with the hard evidence soon.

All one can say is that a country that does not have the reach and control to ferret out a dead terrorist, is surely not a country that can be responsible enough to possess and control nuclear weapons or material.

PS Bill. it would be very interesting to have an analysis from you, given your resources, of what the US's risk analysis says about Pak nukes. After all never before in history have 100,000 western troops incl nearly 70,000 US troops fought a war, with nuclear weapons actually in the theatre of operations.

Posted by Mr T at August 19, 2009 10:59 AM ET:

Remember this information is not coming from Omar the terrorist. It is coming from Pakistani authorities.

Who knows what he is really saying. I mean, after a few times of pushing him into that fake wall or putting him in a cage with a biting ladybug, he will say anything to please his captors.

Posted by Mr. A at August 19, 2009 12:25 PM ET:

Totally agree with Mr. T.

though he might not exaggerate that much, a third world+conservative country after all cant match with waterboarding techniques, lady prison guards with dogs etc.

Posted by Edward at August 19, 2009 1:29 PM ET:

I can't see how this isn't just a ploy by Maulvi Omar to keep the Pakistani government off the trail (of a living Baitullah) by feeding them what they'd oh SO like to hear.