Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Taliban Commander Baradar Providing Useful Information

While the Taliban continue to claim that this is all a ruse and their military commander is still free, US and Pakistani officials say that Taliban thug Bahadar is providing useful information:
The captured No. 2 Taliban commander, in the hands of none-too-gentle Pakistani intelligence agents, is already giving up "useful information," U.S. and Afghan sources said Tuesday.

"It's certainly a breakthrough and I think it could be a turning point" in the Afghan war, James Dobbins, former U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan, said of last week's arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Pakistan.

"This is a major terrorist who has been at the core of Taliban operations for years" as a friend since boyhood of Taliban chieftain Mullah Mohammed Omar, a U.S. counterterror official said of Baradar, who also oversaw the Taliban's drug and protection rackets.

The importance of his capture, in a joint operation by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency and the CIA, was underlined by the Taliban's insistence it never happened.

"We totally deny this rumor," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press by telephone.
The Pakistani military confirms that he was captured and The Dawn reports that several other people were captured and are being interrogated. With the ISI in the lead, it is quite possible that they are using harsh interrogation techniques to obtain that information. It is also important to note that some information that Baradar has is of a time sensitive nature; whereabouts of key individuals, plans for terror operations and military operations, etc. as well as long term strategic objectives and doctrinal goals. Getting at the time sensitive information in a prompt fashion - and relaying that information to those who can act on that information is key to disrupting Taliban operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Yet, capturing a major commander like Baradar doesn't mean that others can't take his place or that terror operations could continue without interruption in Pakistan or Afghanistan. We've seen the Mehsud clan continue terror operations despite the targeted airstrikes that first took out Baitullah and later Hakimullah Mehsud. Taliban operations will continue, but the more insight we have into the inner workings of the group, the more we can build on prior successes and take out the group and its capabilities to strike. As the Washington Post notes, Taliban thugs are still trying to carry out attacks, and one Taliban thug was captured this week and admitted to recruiting a new class of suicide bombers - young girls.

Bill Roggio reports that Taliban leaders in Afghanistan admit that Baradar was captured, but that he was captured in Helmand Province and not in Karachi as had been claimed by the US/Pakistani sources. They say he and several of his cohorts were picked up in the course of operations in Marja.

That makes some sense for the Taliban to make that claim. They have a vested interest in trying to show that their leaders are actually leading the battle from the front, rather than exhorting on their minions from the cozy confines of a Pakistani city where they can live in relative luxury compared to the hardships faced on the battlefield where they face death from all angles.

Yet a major Pakistani leader threw some cold water on claims that Baradar was captured in a joint CIA/ISI operation.
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.

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