Mullah Baradar, the Afghan Taliban's deputy commander, reported captured in Karachi


Pakistan's top military intelligence service has captured the Afghan Taliban's deputy commander during a raid in the port city of Karachi.

The Inter-Services Intelligence agency, Pakistan's military intelligence service, accompanied by officers from the US Central Intelligence Agency arrested Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Afghan Taliban's second in command and the group's operational commander, several days ago, US officials told The New York Times.

Baradar has been a longtime leader in the Afghan Taliban and a close confidant of Mullah Mohammad Omar, the spiritual leader of the group. He is said to direct the Taliban's Shura Majlis, or top leadership council. Baradar directed the Taliban's day-to-day operations, and is in close contact with regional military commanders and the shadow governors. He also is said to control the Taliban's purse strings.

The exact date of Baradar's arrest was not given; it is not known if Baradar's arrest has led to the capture of other senior Taliban leaders. As operational commander, Baradar will have extensive information on the Taliban's strategy and its leadership cadre.

The Taliban have denied Baradar has been captured and claimed he is still in Afghanistan.

"He has not been captured," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters. "They want to spread this rumour just to divert the attention of people from their defeats in Marja and confuse the public," he continued, referring to the ongoing Coalition and Afghan offensive in central Helmand province.

The Taliban routinely deny that their leaders are operating from inside Pakistan and claim they are capable of operating from within Afghanistan, as they control much of the countryside. But several senior Taliban commanders have been detained in Pakistan.

Baradar is the most senior Afghan Taliban leader to have been detained in Pakistan since the US invaded Afghanistan in late 2001. Other Taliban leaders captured in Pakistan include Mullah Obaidullah, Mansour Dadullah, and Anwarul Haq Mujahid.

Obaidullah served as the Taliban's defense minister before he was detained during a raid in Quetta in February 2008 as he was raising money for operations in Afghanistan. Dadullah was the former Taliban commander of southern Afghanistan who was dismissed by Mullah Omar in early 2008; he was captured by Pakistani security forces during a raid on a religious seminary in Baluchistan. Mujahid was the commander of the Tora Bora Military Front and was detained during a raid in Peshawar in 2009.

The Afghan Taliban's leadership cadre have long operated from within Pakistan. The Taliban's leadership council, called the Quetta Shura, has operated from the Pakistani city of the same name for years, according to Afghan and US officials.

Last fall, the Quetta Shura, and Mullah Omar himself, were reported to have been relocated to Karachi.

Baradar's arrest, if confirmed, creates problems for the Pakistani government. Numerous Pakistani government, military, and intelligence officials have repeatedly denied the existence of the Quetta Shura and have disputed claims that it had moved to Karachi.

But Baradar's arrest in Karachi would provide the strongest evidence that the Quetta Shura is now in the Pakistani port city.

The Inter-Services Intelligence agency has long been accused of sheltering the Quetta Shura, as it views the Afghan Taliban as its greatest asset in regaining influence in Afghanistan. The terror group would also serve as strategic depth, or a reserve, against India and Indian influence inside Afghanistan.

General Ashfaq Kayani, the top military leader in Pakistan, refuted claims that Pakistan supports the Taliban for influence in Afghanistan. In an interview with foreign reporters, Kayani said that Pakistan merely wants to train the Afghan military.

"We want to have strategic depth in Afghanistan, but that does not imply controlling it," Kayani said, The Washington Post reported. "If we have a peaceful, stable and friendly Afghanistan, automatically we will have our strategic depth because our western border will be secure, and we will not be looking at two fronts."

The Pakistani military has refused to take on the Haqqani Network, a dangerous Taliban group allied with al Qaeda and based in North Waziristan, and other Taliban leaders who support the fight in Afghanistan. The military has ruled out an operation in North Waziristan over the next year.



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READER COMMENTS: "Mullah Baradar, the Afghan Taliban's deputy commander, reported captured in Karachi"

Posted by KaneKaizer at February 16, 2010 1:56 AM ET:

An amazing achievement to say the least. Who knows how much actionable intelligence he might give the CIA, or has already given them since he has been held a few days?

Such a high profile capture would have the Taliban rushing to change their routines, plans and relocate other HVTs to make any information Baradar provides basically outdated. No wonder they waited so long just to announce it, for all we know there may have been other raids conducted in the past few days based on information from Baradar that haven't been announced publicly yet. This is a very good development, very good indeed.

Posted by Khattak at February 16, 2010 1:59 AM ET:

Great news. It means CIA is making inroads deeper into Pakistan. This will change heart of ISI even if they don't want to. ISI needs to be awarded generiously so that they may come up with whereabouts of Molla Umar & company. Money can do wonders. Through LWJ, I want to extend my sympathies to small headed Mollas(my fellow Pashtuns) not to bank on ISI & Pakistanis army. You will be sold like tomatos & carrots.

Posted by Marlin at February 16, 2010 7:49 AM ET:

Rehman Malik never ceases to amaze me with his 'loose cannon' comments. I can't believe he wasn't quietly removed from office months/years ago.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Tuesday branded as "propaganda" reports that the top Taliban military commander had been arrested in a joint Pakistani-US spy operation.

Speaking to reporters outside parliament in Islamabad, the cabinet minister stopped short of either confirming or denying the media reports.

[...]

"We are verifying all those we have arrested. If there is any big target, I will show the nation," Malik said.

"If the New York Times gives information, it is not a divine truth, it can be wrong. We have joint intelligence sharing and no joint investigation, nor joint raids," Malik added.

"We are a sovereign state and hence will not allow anybody to come and do any operation. And we will not allow that. So this (report) is propaganda," he added.

Dawn: Mullah Baradar arrest reports propaganda: Rehman Malik

Posted by JD at February 16, 2010 8:01 AM ET:

Bill,

I seem to remember an unconfirmed report that the ISI facilitated Mullah Omar's relocation to Karachi within the last 90 days. If both are true, it may cause Mullah Omar to become mobile creating more targeting opportunities.

Posted by Charley at February 16, 2010 9:04 AM ET:

Great news indeed. I wonder what made ISI co-operate this time. And how many more cockroaches we will find in Karachi, if only we get more co-operation.

I wonder why we have not frozen ISI assets yet, like we did with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The ISI is also clearly an organization supporting terrorism, and has been responsible for the death of many of our troops.

Posted by Zeissa at February 16, 2010 9:41 AM ET:

I hope the US tortures him for information, and failing that the Pakistanis by proxy. Or both... that would be best.

Posted by Civy at February 16, 2010 10:05 AM ET:

While it may well be calculated moves on their part, with denials and conflicting claims, one does begin to wonder if the Taliban are now so disorganized that many of their senior people just don't know what's going on from day to day, and even, week to week.

Posted by Solomon2 at February 16, 2010 10:08 AM ET:

Mullah Baradar arrest reports propaganda: Rehman Malik

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Tuesday branded as "propaganda" reports that the top Taliban military commander had been arrested in a joint Pakistani-US spy operation.

Speaking to reporters outside parliament in Islamabad, the cabinet minister stopped short of either confirming or denying the media reports.

The New York Times and other US media cited US government officials as saying that US and Pakistani intelligence services arrested Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Karachi "several days ago".

"We are verifying all those we have arrested. If there is any big target, I will show the nation," Malik said.

"If the New York Times gives information, it is not a divine truth, it can be wrong. We have joint intelligence sharing and no joint investigation, nor joint raids," Malik added.

"We are a sovereign state and hence will not allow anybody to come and do any operation. And we will not allow that. So this (report) is propaganda," he added.

Pakistan's government is a close US ally in the war on Al-Qaeda and the eight-year conflict against the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan, but the relationship is controversial in an increasingly anti-American country.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/world/12-us+pakistan+capture+taliban+top+commander--bi-04

Posted by Alan Hawk at February 16, 2010 11:01 AM ET:

This is huge and could seriously disrupt the Taliban. Baradar certainly stepped on a lot of toes during his tenure. He put in a lot of local commanders at the expense of local figures. I wouldn't be surprised if we see some infighting among the Baradar patronage line and the old guard Taliban. This will certainly disrupt the Quetta Shura, now apparently moved to Karachi, and create mistrust as the members try to figure out the mole in their midst. The fractious Taliban will become even more fractious. However, he seemed to be someone who had genuine strategic insight.

Posted by John at February 16, 2010 1:37 PM ET:

I agree with Joshua foust. God knows what faustian deal CIA made. CIA doesn't have a soul, god knows whose soul they sold. My guess is Afghan.

This seems like a good faith gift from ISI for operationalising the London deal

Posted by hillbilly at February 16, 2010 1:48 PM ET:

mullah barader lost his utility for ISI and was becoming an obstacle .....its arest is giving the americans a feel good factor too, some more goodies on the way.

Posted by steve m. at February 16, 2010 1:57 PM ET:

i had a though after seeing the al jazeera report om him ( http://www.longwarjournal.org/videos/2010/02/who_is_mullah_baradar.php ), and hearing that he had approached the afghan government. maybe he did so without isi approval and that is why isi decided to grab him. just a thought.

Posted by jayc at February 16, 2010 2:27 PM ET:

Rehman Malik reminds me of Colonel Klink on Hogan's Heroes..wait maybe I meant Athar Abbas, wait,.....

Posted by T Ruth at February 16, 2010 2:38 PM ET:

Captured? Without a shot being fired? Or merely relocated by his landlord, the ISI?

BBC's speculation
"Some quarters here indicate that the arrest may have been "orchestrated" by elements within the Pakistani establishment to facilitate back-channel talks with "willing" Taliban commanders.

This line of thinking presupposes a scenario in which the Pakistanis "brought in" Mullah Baradar under a pre-arranged pact with the CIA to pave the way for negotiations."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8518127.stm

Thats the #9 most read story. The #3 is 'Men need better fitting condoms'

One thing's for sure nothing straight-forward about it.

Posted by Spooky at February 16, 2010 2:53 PM ET:

Athar Abbas is Klink. Malik is Baghdad Bob. Maybe he should be called Pindi Pete or something.

Good haul, though I too must wonder what he was exchanged for.

Posted by kp at February 16, 2010 3:43 PM ET:

Or perhaps another reason for cooperation: given the recent Washington Post articles that said Pakistani intelligence cooperation increased after the US made Baitullah Mehsud a primary HVT and eventually killed him.


One wonders about Mehsud Jr and his (perhaps?) recent demise? Is this another burst of cooperation related to dealing with the Mehsud threat (one that the Pakistanis aren't willing or aren't capable of doing themselves?).


Or perhaps the CIA got the intel themselves (i.e. though the US intel apparatus) and told the Pakistani government that he was going to be taken (one way or the other?) and they would rather the Pakistani's helped out.


I'm pretty sure the Pakistani's component here makes sure he remains in "Pakistani custody" as opposed to US custody abroad (given the current US administrations outlook) though I'm pretty sure that the interrogation will be done by both (and the Pakistani's will have a bit more free reign on techniques that can be used). A question will be how much do you want tactical info (that's good now) or more insight into the org (perhaps useful over time).

Posted by Zeissa at February 17, 2010 8:52 AM ET:

The CIA does have a soul John, who are you to say they've sold out Afghanistan like Pakistan does all the time without proof or even circumstantial indicators.

Posted by T Ruth at February 17, 2010 11:34 AM ET:

Hey Zeissa this looks like a birthday and new year present for you--all rolled into one! Wonder if the year of the Tiger is going to be good for ISAF here?

I reckon its going to be good for China and India, the Asian tigers.....don't know about the Pakistanis, they're acting like neurotic wimps instead of claiming kudos for this "capture". Looks like they had their arm twisted a bit and they're bruised. I still think a little bit of fingering around Baluchistan will go a long way to unravel the problem that is Pakistan.