CIA 'seized' Taliban commander in Pakistan, Taliban denies

US official confirms seizure of Taliban's top military commander in a CIA secret raid while but Taliban denied the report.

CIA 'seized' Taliban commander in Pakistan, Taliban denies

The Taliban's top military commander has been captured in Pakistan in a secret raid by U.S. spy agencies and Pakistan, a U.S. official said, but the Taliban denied the report.

Citing U.S. government officials, the Times said Mullah Baradar, described as the most significant Taliban figure captured since the start of the Afghanistan war, had been in Pakistani custody for several days and was being interrogated by Pakistani and U.S. intelligence.

The Times cited officials as saying the operation to capture Mullah Baradar was conducted by Pakistan's military spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, which was accompanied by CIA operatives.

The newspaper said U.S. officials described Mullah Baradar as ranking second in influence in the Taliban only to Mullah Muhammad Omar.

The newspaper said it was not clear if he was talking, but it quoted the officials as saying his capture could lead to other senior Taliban officials including the location of Mullah Omar.

The newspaper said it learned of the operation on Thursday, but delayed reporting it after a request by White House officials who said disclosing it would end a very successful intelligence push.

The Times said it was now publishing the report because White House officials acknowledged that news of the capture was becoming broadly known in the region.

U.S. officials were quoted as saying that in addition to the Taliban's military operations, Mullah Baradar ran the group's leadership council, often called the Quetta Shura.

The Times quoted former CIA official Bruce Riedel as saying he had not been aware of Mullah Baradar's capture before being told by the Times, but that the raid constituted a "sea change in Pakistani behavior."

"US confirmation"


A U.S. official on Monday confirmed the report of the capture.

"I would call it significant," another U.S. official said of Mullah Baradar's capture. "But even when you get their leaders, they've shown an amazing resilience to bounce back. It's an adaptive organization."

Both U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

"We continue to look for opportunities to coordinate across the border," the second American official said. "We appreciate the help we get."

The White House, the CIA and the Pentagon declined comment on the operation.

Taliban denial

The Taliban denied the capture, which The New York Times said took place in the southern city of Karachi.

A Taliban spokesman said Ghani, known to many Taliban as Mullah Baradar, was still in Afghanistan actively organising the group's military and political activities.

"He has not been captured. They want to spread this rumour just to divert the attention of people from their defeats in Marjah and confuse the public," Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters, referring to a U.S.-led NATO offensive in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

A Pakistani security official who declined to be identified told Reuters: "Yes, it's true. He has been arrested. He's in our custody."

The arrest came as US-led forces across the border in Afghanistan undertake one of Nato's biggest offensives against the Taliban.

US President Barack Obama plans to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, where the Taliban has made a steady comeback since a US-led invasion ousted it in 2001.


Agencies

Last Mod: 16 Şubat 2010, 15:49
Add Comment