Thursday, February 18, 2010

Big Fish Alert: More Taliban Thugs and Al Qaeda Terrorists Captured In Ongoing Operations In Afghanistan and Pakistan

While no one is saying for sure whether the latest arrest of two more Taliban leaders was the result of the capture of Mullah Baradar, the hits keep coming for the Taliban struggling from a multi-pronged attack by the US, Afghan, and Pakistani forces on multiple fronts, including intel operations, UAV airstrikes, and direct assaults on Taliban-infested territories.

The "shadow governors" of two Afghan provinces were captured.
Afghan officials said the Taliban’s “shadow governors” for two provinces in northern Afghanistan had been detained in Pakistan by officials there. Mullah Abdul Salam, the Taliban’s leader in Kunduz, was detained in the Pakistani city of Faisalabad, and Mullah Mir Mohammed of Baghlan Province was also captured in an undisclosed Pakistani city, they said.

The arrests come on the heels of the capture of Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s military commander and the deputy to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the movement’s founder. Mr. Baradar was arrested in a joint operation by the C.I.A. and the ISI, Pakistan’s military intelligence agency.

The arrests were made by Pakistani officials, the Afghans said, but it seemed probable that C.I.A. officers accompanied them, as they did in the arrest of Mr. Baradar. Pakistani officials declined to comment.

Together, the three arrests mark the most significant blow to the Taliban’s leadership since the American-backed war began eight years ago. They also demonstrate the extent to which the Taliban’s senior leaders have been able to use Pakistan as a sanctuary to plan and mount attacks in Afghanistan.

It was not immediately clear if the arrests of the Taliban shadow governors were made possible by intelligence taken from Mr. Baradar. But it seemed likely. In the days after Mr. Baradar’s arrest, American officials said they managed to keep his detention a secret from many Taliban leaders, and that they were determined to roll up as much of the Taliban’s leadership as they could.
The Pakistanis arrested nine al Qaeda affiliated thugs in Karachi. Officials in that instance say the arrests were not related to Baradar's capture, but the report indicates that one among those captured was identified as "...Ameer Muawiya, who the officials said was in charge of foreign al-Qaida militants operating in Pakistan's tribal regions near Afghanistan and was an associate of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden."

If that pans out, that is a major hit against al Qaeda operations in the region, and could lead to additional arrests and airstrikes on both sides of the Afghan/Pakistani border.

That's on the heels of additional UAV airstrikes that took out terrorists in Waziristan.

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