Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency has detained another top Afghan Taliban leader. Agha Jan Mohtasim, the former Finance Minister during the Taliban regime and the son-in-law of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader of the Taliban, is said to have been arrested along with three associates, according to The Daily Mail and The Associated Press. US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal would not comment on reports of Mohtasim’s arrest.
Pakistani intelligence officials are said to be interrogating Mohtasim, who was detained in a raid in Karachi. The date of his capture was not disclosed.
Mohtasim is thought to be one of several candidates to take over the Quetta Shura after Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was detained by Pakistani security forces sometime in January of Febuary of this year. Mohtasim is said to be a close confidant to Mullah Omar. [See LWJ report, “The Afghan Taliban’s top leaders,” for more details]
If Mohtasim is in Pakistani custody, he would be the sixth member of the Afghan Taliban’s top council to be detained this year. Over the past two months, Pakistani security forces have detained Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the second in command of the Taliban and the director of the council; Maulvi Abdul Kabir, the leader of the Peshawar Regional Military Shura; Mullah Abdul Salam, the shadow governor of Kunduz; Mullah Mir Mohammed, the shadow governor of Baghlan province; and Mohammed Younis, the former shadow governor of Zabul province.
Baradar and Younis, like Mohtasim, are reported to have been detained in Karachi. The Afghan Taliban began moving key members of the Quetta Shura to Karachi last fall after the US threatened to strike the Taliban leadership based in the city of Quetta using unmanned Predator and Reaper attack aircraft.
Afghanistan has sought the extradition of Baradar, Kabir, Salam, Mir Mohammed, and Younis, but a top Pakistani court blocked any transfer until the court rules on their status.
Pakistan’s motivations for detaining the top leaders of the Afghan Taliban after allowing them to operate on Pakistani soil for more than eight years have been questioned. Some analysts believe the Pakistani military establishment and the government have begun to see the Afghan Taliban as a real threat to Pakistan’s security. Other analysts think the Pakistanis are attempting to seize control of or sabotage a possible negotiated settlement to the war in Afghanistan, while currying favor with the US, which has been critical of Pakistan’s inaction against the Taliban’s leaders. [See LWJ report, “Another senior Afghan Taliban leader detained in Pakistan,” for more details.]
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