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US officials: Top Taliban commander captured

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 16 February 2010

US officials say they have seized the Taliban's military commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in a secret raid with Pakistani intelligence forces in Karachi.


Mullah Baradar is said to be a key deputy to the Taliban's spiritual leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, and associate of Osama Bin Laden before the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

The New York Times, quoting anonymous American government officials, said Baradar was seized several days ago in Karachi during a joint raid between the ISI Pakistani intelligence agency and CIA operatives.

The report said he had been interrogated for several days which officials hoped could help them find other Taliban leaders.

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

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said that a number of people are being investigated after crossing the border from Afghanistan.

"A large number of people have fled the Nato operation in Afghanistan and crossed into Pakistan," he said. 

"We have picked up many. We are investigating them and right now we cannot divulge their identity."

His capture would make him the most senior insurgent leader to be arrested since the US led offensive on Afghanistan began in 2001.

US officials in Washington said they hoped the arrest would temporarily weaken the insurgency in southern Afghanistan.

More from Channel 4 News
- Did captured Taliban leader seek Afghan deal?
- The sting in the tail of the fight against the Taliban
- Fierce resistance to US Afghan offensive
- Afghan Taliban warn Nato: we'll be back
- Moshtarak is a fight for hearts and minds

Nato forces are currently engaged on Operation Moshtarak to clear the Taliban stronghold of Marjah in central Helmand province.

However ISI's involvement could suggest a new level of Pakistani co-operation against the leaders behind the Afghan insurgency.

The Taliban denied Baradar had been captured, claiming he was in Afghanistan organising insurgent military action.

"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," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

However another Taliban source, who did not want to be named, told Channel 4 News that Baradar had left the group last month due to differences with its leader Mullah Omar.

The source said he had favoured talks to end the fighting with Afghan and US-led forces, having expressed concerns about the impact military action was having on civilians.

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