Bin Laden associate is most senior Afghan Taliban leader caught since ’01
ISLAMABAD — The Taliban's top military commander has been arrested in a joint CIA-Pakistani operation in Pakistan in a major victory against the insurgents as U.S. troops push into their heartland in southern Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the group's No. 2 leader behind Afghan Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar and a close associate of Usama bin Laden, was captured in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi, two Pakistani intelligence officers and a senior U.S. official said.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release such sensitive information.
Baradar heads the Taliban's military council and was elevated in the body after the 2006 death of military chief Mullah Akhtar Mohammed Usmani. He is known to coordinate the movement's military operations throughout the south and southwest of Afghanistan. His area of direct responsibility stretches over Kandahar, Helmand, Nimroz, Zabul and Uruzgan provinces.
According to Interpol, Baradar was the deputy defense minister in the Taliban regime that ruled Afghanistan until it was ousted in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.
Karachi is Pakistan's largest city and has been increasingly cited as a possible hiding place for top Afghan Taliban commanders in recent months. It has a large population of Pashtuns, the ethnic group that makes up the Taliban, but it is on the Arabian Sea and far from the Afghan border.
Baradar is the most senior Afghan Taliban leader arrested since the beginning of the Afghan war in 2001 following the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States.