Taliban confirm Mullah Baradar captured

Two Taliban commanders based in southern Afghanistan have confirmed that the group’s second in command has been captured, but claimed he was detained during the Coalition offensive in Helmand province and not in Karachi.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Afghan Taliban’s operational commander and the top deputy to Mullah Omar, was reported yesterday to have been arrested by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency several days ago in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi.

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.

Today Taliban commanders Abdul Qayum and Akhtar Mohammad confirmed that Baradar has been arrested, but denied he was captured in Karachi.

Baradar “was captured by foreign troops on Sunday, along with some of his bodyguards, during the operation in Marja,” Qayum told Bloomberg, referring to the ongoing operation to oust the Taliban from its stronghold in Helmand province.

Qayum may be none other than Mullah Abdul Qayum Zakir, the Taliban’s “surge commander” who is directing operations in southern Afghanistan, although this cannot be confirmed. Zakir was released by the US in December 2007 and sent to Afghanistan, where he was subsequently released by the Afghan government. Zakir quickly rejoined the Taliban and took over operations in the strategic South.

Akhtar Mohammad also told Bloomberg that Baradar was captured by US forces during the operation in Helmand.

Qayum and Akhtar’s accounts contradict a statement by Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, who denied Baradar was in custody, immediately after the report of his capture.

“He has not been captured,” Mujahid told Reuters within hours after reports of Baradar’s arrest broke on Feb. 15. “They want to spread this rumour just to divert the attention of people from their defeats in Marja and confuse the public.”

The Taliban have long denied that their Shura Majlis, or executive council, is based in Pakistan. Instead, the Afghan Taliban have stated that their leaders are operating in Afghanistan as the Taliban control much of the country and there is no need to be in Pakistan.

Afghan and Western officials have long maintained, however, that the Taliban shura is based in the city of Quetta in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan. The Taliban council has even been nicknamed the Quetta Shura.

In the fall of 2009, reports surfaced that the Quetta Shura was being relocated to Karachi. The move occurred as the US was discussing expanding the deadly covert air campaign against the Taliban in the northwest to include the Quetta Shura. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) is said to have facilitated the move, and Mullah Omar was said to have relocated to Karachi months later.

The Pakistani government has denied that the Afghan Taliban are based in Pakistan, and said the Quetta Shura does not exist. Baradar’s capture in Karachi has cast further doubts on the Pakistani government’s claims.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, has called the report of Baradar’s capture “propaganda” and said no joint operation between the ISI and the CIA took place. He stopped short of denying that Baradar was in Pakistani custody, however.

“We are verifying all those we have arrested,” Malik told Dawn. If there is any big target, I will show the nation.”

“If the New York Times gives information, it is not a divine truth, it can be wrong,” Malik continued. The New York Times broke the story of Baradar’s capture.

“We have joint intelligence sharing and no joint investigation, nor joint raids,” Malik said, referring to the report that the CIA participated in the raid to capture Baradar. “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.”

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • ArneFufkin says:

    The account of Baradar being captured last Sunday obviously conflicts with the NY Times account which states that intelligence officials alerted their reporters to the capture last Thursday. Hopefully we have had Baradar for the ten days reported in the Times.

  • Paul says:

    OK can someone seriously explain to me why if we locate Omar, OBL or any other senior targets why we cannot send hit squads in and kill them? I find it hard to believe in an area as small as A & P we cannot find some of these guys and even if we did why we would not assassinate them. It seems like we are afraid to take them out. I mean is this a war or not? You mean to tell me there is NO Pakistani or Afghan willing to take 25M$ and relocate to the US in exchange for going into Quetta or Karachi and going undercover? Hell I would! I seriously doubt that they have that kind of universal support around them that makes them invincible. I am betting they are now in Iran.

  • C. Jordan says:

    “I am betting they are now in Iran”
    My gut has told me this for awhile now. I believe that it is a myth that Shia and Sunni cannot coexist. They have many common goals, starting with Israel.

  • Paul says:

    C Jordan–exactly. Their biggest common enemy is us and Iran knows we would not attack them over it.All the more reason to go covert. Hey if the Israelis could do it in Dubai…are they better at it than us?

  • Douglas says:

    To answer Paul, the US no longer uses assassination or tries not to. If you read “Ghost Wars” you’ll see that the Clinton administration debated this issue over and over regarding OBL. We knew where he lived in Afghanistan, in a compound that also housed women and children. The debate was over the legality of the possible action we could take against him.
    I believe the prohibition against assassination began in the later 1970s when the government began to investigate historic CIA activities.

  • kp says:

    I suspect the ROE differ for different HVTs. I suspect that UBL, AZ and MO are “special” in that we would put boots on the ground in Pakistan (as we openly once before) to capture or kill them and retrieve their bodies. Lesser HVTs we work with locals for. I suspect this would also go for Iran too.

    Pakistan isn’t a small place. The population of 170 million is the 6th largest on the planet — that’s more than half of the US. The country is the 36th largest in the world — that’s bigger than France the biggest country in the EU. About the same size as Texas and Louisiana together. Think how many felons the FBI is looking for and can’t find in the US where they control the territory and have thousands of people.

  • nissonic says:

    “I am betting they are now in Iran”
    Some people including me believes on the theory that OBL, Omar and the inner circle left Afghanistan immediately when the war began in 2001. First they went to Pakistan in the are where the Pakistan taliban resides, then they traveled north over the mountains into China. You know that area is off limits for americans and all ISAF troops. I would have hidden there if I was OBL. It has at much muslims there just a few miles over the border than in AFG and PAK. I could melt in there perfectly.
    USA cannot go into China so he has nothing to fear in terms of a manhunt.
    Only his poor health will bring him down, not a missile blast…

  • TimSln says:

    Report that Mullah Abdul Salam, the shadow governor of Afghanistan’s Kunduz Province has been captured in Faisalabad, Pakistan. This is possibly linked to the Mullah Baradar capture.

  • James says:

    “I believe the prohibition against assassination began in the later 1970s when the government began to investigate historic CIA activities.”
    Are you referring to the [so-called] “executive order,” put into place by Carter? Only Congress has the constitutional authority to legislate.
    I submit that future presidents should not be encumbered [i.e., have one hand or both tied behind their backs] by the plethora of executive orders put into place by previous administrations.
    Quite to the contrary, if anything, a president should be obligated to defend the Constitution (our freedoms) by eliminating individuals such as o’ SON OF SATAN bin hidin’.
    Furthermore, o’ SON OF SATAN is not a politician and does not represent any legitimate government.
    Are you inferring that the [so-called] ban on “political assasinations” applies to him and therefore he is a “politician”?
    He is not a politician. He is nothing but a thug and an international war criminal and fugitive that should have been eliminated long ago.
    I assert that they are constitutionally required to eliminate him if and when they can by whatever means are called for.
    Ideally though, if they could surround him and then use him as a huge magnet to draw others around him and like him to be also eliminated would be even better still.
    (This is what at least I believe they did when they eliminated the two “SONS OF SODOM” [SODOM INSANE] O’ d and KOO’ cee.)

  • Vern says:

    Was he captured in Helmand or Karachi? That is an important distinction. I am betting he was captured in Helmand. The US CIA/DoD operatives cannot interrogate him for intel if he was captured in Helmand. Obama has closed that door. He will be held in Pakistan by the Pakis to get around that obstacle. The downside is the CIA will not be allowed unfettered access because ISI subversion may come out.

  • T Ruth says:

    I think you may well have something there.
    There are already reports that his car was stopped at some checkpoint. So, at odds with the assertion of Karachi.
    I also find it hard to get my head around ISI allowing CIA personnel to drive along with them and then ring his doorbell with a bouquet of flowers.
    Something implausible about it.
    As an undercurrent, there are some hundreds of millions of dollars “due” by the US to Pak under the coalition fund. O/s because of lack of “support”–you know what that means. This is money already “spent”/siphoned off and away (Dubai bank a/c’s–Swiss not as reliable as their cheese). IE, esp under the current legal climate in Pak, the Army doesn’t want any questions raised or the media to cotton on. In fact they are DESPERATE to get their hands on this cash ASAP.
    This is the cream that the keeps the Pak army brass smiling and playing along however grudgingly.
    So anything is possible. But lets be clear that the pak elite, army or politicians are as corrupt as in Afghanistan.

  • Zeissa says:

    Clinton is guilty, what else is new.
    The Taliban are lying. He was caught in Karachi.

  • Zeissa says:

    It’s unlikely he’s in China, Iran is more plausible. China is openly oppressing its Islamic population. I should know. It’s wonderful.
    As for Clinton, OBL doesn’t have to be a pol nt to get hurt. The laws that came under his administrations were much more extensive than that.
    And I don’t the US government would lie about its joint operation, they would be under attack at home and possibly by the PGov if the population becomes upset.

  • Zeissa says:

    PS. I know OBL very likely might not be in Iran but Pakistan. Whichever, I have no idea… but China seems incredibly unlikely. Pakistan is still my prime suspect though, but considering how much they could sell him for maybe he isn’t.

  • Shahid says:

    In reply to Paul and Douglas
    By watching movies like “star wars” and “from paris with love” can make you think that the US can have a strong hit squad and they also take care of legality of actions and women and children,,,,, but in reality its not a movie.
    There is no director and repeat of camera scenes for retakess lol. My friend there is no rules and legality for USA. they just cant find their targets inspite of their great technology. Thay make histroy through movies like rambo!!!
    Afghanistan is a playy ground for great powers and Pakistan is yet to prove again its domnence in the art of deception.


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