February 17th, 2010
09:26 AM ET

What Baradar's capture means for the Taliban

Now that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (considered the Taliban's No. 2 man and military leader) has been captured, what does it mean for the Taliban? CNN's Ali Velshi spoke with Ken Robinson, a terrorism and national security analyst and former military intelligence officer, about how the Taliban operates as a group, what the replacement process will be and the likelihood of negotiating with the Taliban.

VELSHI: Baradar's arrest: is it a game-changer?

ROBINSON: It is because [the Taliban] doesn't have a lot of people who are in the command and control being able to plan to conduct future operations.

VELSHI: They've got lots of people who are prepared to go out there, fight and get killed.

ROBINSON: But not a lot of people who have the influence to be able to lead these large organizations. The Taliban is divided into three organizations, none of which, if we were there, would be cooperating. They would be fighting each other.

VELSHI: Now, Baradar has been described as a iron-fisted leader, but he's supposedly pragmatic and a bit of a consensus builder. Now that he's gone, is there some very clear replacement for him, or does the Taliban structure easily replace top leaders?

ROBINSON: No, they actually exercise a democracy almost cleaner than ours. They're going to have a "jirga," and they're going to bring their elders together and they're going to decide who the most righteous guy is who can lead forward, and then they'll democratically elect that person and he'll step up. But as we saw with the death of Mohammed Atef at the beginning of 2001, who was the military leader for bin Laden, and the other people around him who radicalized him, it hurts because they now have to find a new qualified, charismatic guy who is not on somebody's capture or kill list.

VELSHI: You said [earlier] that the Taliban - who we think of as the hardest-edged, the most committed, the hardest to deal with - can actually be dealt with. Al Qaeda can't be, but you think the Taliban can be negotiated with?

ROBINSON: In Islam there are provisions for making treaties and deals. It's in the Koran. And the Taliban are not radical in the way that the Salafist, Wahabbist, Arab foreign fighter is. And they are communicating with them. They do have inroads into several of those leaders, and they are talking about some of those forces leaving the battlefield. And there could be a cascading effect with that, but there is no negotiating with al Qaeda. It's simply to find them and destroy them. ...

There's not a lot of people [in the Taliban] who are out there really planning. Most of these guys are doers and shooters. [Baradar] is a very key planner, strategic. It's a big hole for them.

VELSHI: What is the equivalent? If we were looking at the U.S. or the Taliban, who would this guy be?

ROBINSON: He would be someone in the Joint Chiefs. He would be a key operational leader in the J-3 of the Joint Chiefs who understands the operational intent over the next 12 months. They know that this insurge into the Helmand River Valley province is the end game, it is the offensive that must work in order for the United States government and for the Afghan National Army to establish legitimacy and be able to find some form of governance that they can then replicate throughout the rest of the country.


Filed under: Baradar
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. A. Smith, Oregon

    Whatever adds to the illusion for the American public that dozens of CIA-ISI trained Taliban field commanders won't step forward and replace this man.

    Negotiate, of course try to do so. However no Muslim ruled forces accept any negotiation by a foreign individual or country to be valid longer than 1 year. In other words huge American taxpayer bribes for a settlement would at most bring 1 year of 'peace' before the treaty is lapse or renewed by a new agreement accompanied by another huge American taxpayer bribe.

    America should take command of several more ghost towns left by fleeing Afghanistan civilians and Taliban fighters and then start to phase down and leave the utterly corrupt President Karzi on his own. After all, the Afghanistan Army protecting that corrupt man should remain loyal for at least 24 hours after America leaves, right?

    February 18, 2010 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
  2. con

    The taliban barely even accept alqaeda but both are our enemy and you must fight fire with fire because with all our missles and technology there is always a little rat in a fox hole hiding.

    February 17, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Satnam Lakshotra

    I totaly agree with MaxVanguard. Taliban and Al Qaeda not to be trusted as they are the enemy of freedom for each of us...

    February 17, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MaxVanguard

    It is foolish to think that the Taliban can be negotiated with. Robinson seems to forget what happened in Pakistan when the government negotiated with the Taliban to allow sharia law to be imposed in certain areas of the Swat Valley as a sort of concession for peace. The Taliban was given an inch and they took a mile, almost conquering their way into Islamabad. It was this broken agreement that forced Pakistan to realize that their former brainchild the Taliban were no longer friends at all, and this was the turning point that caused Pakistan to actually step up attacks on Taliban-controlled areas.

    Any attempts to negotiate with an extremist movement like the Taliban are doomed to fail, because such radicals only pretend to honor agreements inasmuch as it will later further their cause. More often than not, such negotiations or truces are only ploys designed to buy the Taliban time to regroup for their next bloody offensive.

    The Taliban and Al Qaeda are cut from the same cloth. They just happen to come from different regions. Neither can be trusted, and both must be eliminated. Men such as these NEVER listen to reason or appeals of peace.

    February 17, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dan Nelson Lafayette,IN

    I hope your right Robinson but I think that many of the Taliban want to kill us and would have the opportunity to do so if they are mixed in with society. The Afghan government should have an agency that watches over these Taliban who say they want to be a part of the newly democratic Afghanistan and those who join the Afghan security force or police force.

    February 17, 2010 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |