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Mullah Omar's close aide captured in Karachi

By Lalit K Jha
February 16, 2010 09:48 IST
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In a major success, a top militant commander who is said to be second in command to elusive Taliban chief Mullah Mohhamad Omar was captured from Pakistan's port city of Karachi.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was arrested in a secret joint operation of ISI and CIA operatives. He is also said to be a close associate of Osama bin Laden before 9/11. A team of American and Pakistani officials captured him.

The arrest of Baradar, said to be second-in-command to Omar, is a major blow to the Taliban and is being described as a major success to Obama Administration's war against terrorism in the Af-Pak region.

'Mullah Baradar has been in Pakistani custody for several days, with American and Pakistani intelligence officials both taking part in interrogations, according to the officials,' The New York Times said.

The arrest of Mullah Baradar could lead to arrest of other Taliban leaders, including Omar, US officials hope, the daily said. Most immediately, they hope he will provide the whereabouts of Omar, the one-eyed Taliban chief.

The New York Times said it came to know about the arrest of Baradar last Thursday, but delayed its reporting at the request of the White House.

"NYT is publishing the news now because White House officials acknowledged that the capture of Mullah Baradar was becoming widely known in the region," it said.

Quoting unnamed official, the daily said Pakistan was leading the interrogation of Mullah Baradar, but US officials were also involved.

The conditions of the questioning are unclear, it reported. "American intelligence officials believe that elements within Pakistan's security services have covertly supported the Taliban with money and logistical help -- largely out of a desire to retain some ally inside Afghanistan for the inevitable day when the Americans leave," it said.

'The ability of the Taliban's top leaders to operate relatively freely inside Pakistan has, for years, been a source of friction between the ISI and the CIA. Americans have complained that they have given ISI operatives the precise locations of Taliban leaders, but that the Pakistanis usually refuse to act,' The New York Times said.

According to an Interpol alert, the daily said Mullah Baradar was born in 1968 in Weetmak village, in Afghanistan's Oruzgan province.

'Terrorism experts describe him as a skilled military leader, who runs many high-level meetings of the Taliban's top commanders in Afghanistan,' it said.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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