February 16th, 2010
02:24 PM ET

FAQ: Taliban leader's capture

The Taliban's top military leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, has been captured, senior U.S. and Pakistani officials told CNN.  Baradar has been a close associate of Osama bin Laden and is seen as the number two figure in the Afghan Taliban.

Here are some frequently asked questions about Baradar and his capture:
Who is Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar?
Is it significant that Baradar was caught in Karachi, Pakistan?
What does his capture mean for the current Operation Moshtarak?
Will Baradar's capture help find Osama bin Laden?

Who is Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar?
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is regarded as the No.2 figure in the Afghan Taliban behind Mullah Mohammed Omar and is described as a close associate of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. But with Omar staying out of sight, Baradar is "basically the de facto leader" of the Taliban, said Muhammad Amir Rana, director of the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, a Pakistani think tank.

CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen called Baradar "arguably more important than Mullah Omar from a military point of view," because Omar is more of a religious figure than an operational commander of the Taliban.

Rana called Baradar a "very skilled military tactician." "When the Taliban were in government in Afghanistan, he was the supreme commander of the army and was heading the charge against the Northern Alliance holdouts at that point in time." Rana said Baradar's capture is significant because he was was actively directing the Taliban's activities in Afghanistan.

Interpol believes Baradar was born in 1968 in Afghanistan's Uruzgan Province and says he held the role of the Taliban's deputy minister of defense until the regime was toppled in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Baradar has been with the Taliban since the beginning, Rana said, and is a member of its Quetta Shura, or leadership council. Profile: More details on Baradar's life

Is it significant that Baradar was caught in Karachi, Pakistan?
Baradar's arrest in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi illustrates both the strong presence of the Afghan Taliban in Pakistan and the growing cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan.

The Afghan Taliban's political leadership is known as the "Quetta Shura" because it has been known to seek sanctuary from forces in Afghanistan by hiding in Pakistan's Quetta area. U.S. officials believe several high value targets have recently moved from Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province to Karachi, including Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

Baradar was arrested during a joint raid between the U.S. and Pakistan and is currently being held in joint custody and interrogated by both the CIA and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency. This suggests a new level of cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan.

Until recently the U.S. has accused Pakistani security service of supporting the Taliban and allowing them to move freely throughout the country, which has been a source of tension between the CIA and ISI. Pakistan has long sought influence in Afghanistan to counter perceived threats from its nuclear neighbor, India.

The U.S. has complained that the Pakistanis have refused to act on informaton about the location of key Taliban leaders that was shared with Pakistan's intelligence service. When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Pakistan in October, she charged that the Pakistani leadership could have gone after senior Taliban and al Qaeda leaders in the country if it wanted to. Pakistan responded that the American information was inaccurate or outdated.

The U.S. has also shored up its support in Pakistan, including sharing more intelligence and going after Pakistani Taliban targets like Baitullah Mehsud, a former leader of the Pakistani Tablian who was killed in a a drone attack last year.  The U.S. has also pledged billions of dollars in aid and counterintellgence training.  Pakistan has taken significant actions over the past year to go after the Taliban Pakistan, a faction that has been at war with the Pakistani government. But it has rarely targeted Afghan Taliban leaders. Baradar's arrest suggests Pakistan has gradually accepted the view it's support of the Taliban in Afghanistan is not helpful to its own survival.

What does the capture of Abdul Ghani Baradar mean for U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan including current operations in the Helmand district?

While the arrest of the senior Taliban leader is good news in terms of removing a combatant from the battle, at least one senior U.S. official with knowledge of Taliban operations inside Afghanistan brings a sober note to the story saying, "I don't think this will have a direct impact on the Central Helmand operation."

The official says the U.S. is uncertain how deep the Taliban bench is so it is unclear how Baradar's replacement will function.

But another U.S. official says his capture will do some immediate good for the U.S. fighting in Afghanistan. "Having him (Baradar) off the battlefield means the near-term disruption of plotting against coalition forces in Afghanistan," the official said.

But it is still unclear how Baradar's arrest will impact Taliban operations around Afghanistan in the long run and U.S. officials are taking a wait and see approach on whether he will give up any useful information.

"But no one should think the Taliban are down and out for good. This is an outfit that has suffered serious losses in recent years–and they'll almost certainly face similar losses in the future–but they've proven resilient before," according to the official.

Will Baradar's arrest be a break for the U.S. in terms of finding senior Taliban and al Qaeda leaders including Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden?

A senior U.S. official with knowledge of Taliban operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan tells CNN Baradar's arrest "may well have lasting impacts on the Quetta Shura Taliban –the Taliban's leadership council– because he ran day to day operations for the Afghan Taliban."

But it remains to be seen how his arrest in Karachi will affect the hunt for senior Taliban and al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"I guess it depends on how talkative he becomes," the senior official said.

Reva Bhalla, the director of analysis at Stratfor, an intelligence think-tank, doubts Baradar could lead the CIA straight to its most-wanted. "It's not like you have one guy and that immediately opens the door to everyone else," she argued, saying that the Taliban guards information carefully because it knows its members could be captured.

And in an interview with Newsweek via email last year Baradar himself said he was in contact with Mullah Omar, but, "continuous contacts are not risk free."

But it is another indication of the pressure the U.S. and Pakistan are putting on the Taliban.  Since the beginning of the year, there has been a steady increase of drone strikes against the Taliban hiding out on the Pakistan side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Such a prominent capture could help another part of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, getting mid and lower-level Taliban to transition into regular society. The Afghan government is willing to help these Taliban do this by not punishing them, but to help them integrate them into the population with offers of jobs.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates draws the re-integration line at the top, however. He has said he has no interest in negotiation with the top Taliban leadership.

But with successful captures like that of Baradar the U.S. hopes that will send a message to the lower Taliban echelons and move them toward assimilating into the regular population.

"Since Mullah Omar has been close to him (Baradar) for a long time, it must also be a severe psychological blow to the group's senior ranks," according to a U.S.  government official.

soundoff (135 Responses)
  1. Larry K

    The way Obama is doing it is showing the Countries involved that We are not trying to take their Country!!! But We want the People to be able to take care of it Themselves...

    February 24, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sharon M.

    "The U.S. has also pledged billions of dollars in aid and counterintellgence training."

    So, we're PAYING THEM (billions of dollars in aid) to "COOPERATE."

    If US Citizens were allowed to vote on where our tax dollars are going, government would stop expanding, government would stop spending money where it's wasted, and we'd stop paying blackmail to other countries.

    February 22, 2010 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  3. Dodie

    We went in.spent our USA money to bomb them.We should of did them in..What the hex,now we are spending our money to rebuild..GO FIGURE.I have relatives fighting for us and we are not a safe country anymore..OH AGAIN TY Barack Obama..He speaks in circles..I am sorry but OBAMA..

    February 21, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Larry K

    It's to bad that that couldn't be the way to fight a war than the way we have to do it now!!! That is the different between Pakistan & Afghanistan... One Country can do most of it by Themselves...

    February 21, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. marinewife67

    I'm glad to hear that some progress has been made , makes everyone gain a little more hope and relief for our troops. Not only are we on our toes about weather or not this Baradar guy will give any useful information to benefit from , but like their saying great news is one less insurgent to open fire towards our troops .

    February 21, 2010 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. JKF

    When is this terrorist, and all the rest of the terrorists held by Pak, be turned over to US authorities so he is investigated and put on trial for helping/harbouring/trainig/supporting AlQaida and enabling 9/11? All these terrorists need to be put on trial for their activities against the people of Afghanistan, especially the acid attacks on girls and school children= massive crimes against humanity? Indian press has reported that Pak has refused to handover these terrorist to the US- what is the US going to do about this apparent complicity of the Pak gvmt ....

    February 19, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Azmat

    well I must say i am stuned by the naiveness of some of the comments lefthere. Any one who beleives that the man, alleged to have mastrminded the movement for 9 years against a colition made of dozens of countries with the most advanced and sophisticated war and intelleigence machines was captured without a shot being fired , is fooling himself. This was the man who had shown his willingness to talk to the afghan government for a negotiated settlement of the conflict and was seen by many as a rival to the authority of Mullah Omar. He is also beleived to have met Karzai in 2008 as per a BBC report.

    February 19, 2010 at 7:40 am | Report abuse |
  8. Eric

    No this is not true, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is safe in Afghanistan, from where he is carrying on with his duties in librating Afghanistan from the invaders. This latest propaganda by the Americans is to divert the attention of the world from their defeats in Marjah but the West is forgetting that the Mujahid Nation of Afghanistan jihad is not an aspiration of one individual, but the aspiration of a whole Nation. The Mujahideen who are participating in this Jihad are not participating because of one individual, but because this is their God given right, and the West has failed to comprehend this reality, thus it is facing defeat internally and externally.

    The truth seeking citizens of this world are fully aware of American propaganda, as they have time to time witnessed the unfolding truth of their pervious propagandas. The media outlets which are today proclaiming the captured of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar are the same media outlets which not to long ago claimed that Iraq had Weapons Of Mass Destruction, but later the whole world witnessed this to be not true. So, we ask the concerned citizens of this world, what will it take for you to start calling liars as liars, because those media outlets which are claiming the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar are just that "liars", their abomination to journalism.

    February 18, 2010 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
  9. James bond

    They should've just sent in JACK BAUER to get information out of this guy.

    February 17, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Pat Bailey

    Can't wait to hear what the Republicans will critize about this. You can bet they'll find something that they would have done better. Even if this dude leads them to Osama bin Laden, they'll claim they would have got much,much more through their waterboarding and their enhanced interrogation techniques. Can't wait to hear what the big Dick Cheny has to say.


    February 17, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    So where is the kudos from the GOP?? They have spent months claiming that Obama's "soft on terror"....... and now this success!

    We are STILL a Nation of Laws, NO TORTURE! There is a mountain of evidence that proves that torture does not yield good intelligence!

    The Geneva Convention rules, PROTECTS OUR TROOPS FROM TORTURE ALSO!

    We can not go down into the gutter with those who would torture, AMERICA IS BETTER THAN THAT!

    During WWII Roosevelt & Churchill agreed not to TORTURE, they were victorious!

    How can anyone call themselves Christians are promote torture?

    February 17, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. lucy

    i think it is interesting to observe that almost none of the writers here will give the current administration any credit at all for good intelligence and apparently none of them recognize that the interrogations are being carried out jointly, so unless our goverenment is colluding with the pakistanis, this guy isn't going anywhere. his capture is, if nothing else, a visible victory for "our side" that might help to influence the "neutrals" on their side. even though this administration is using essentially the same tactics as the last one – except for rwaterboarding, which may make some of you feel good but doesn't acutally work – they get the credit. why can't any of you see that both administrations were/are working very hard and pretty successfully to keep us safe, that the panty bomber made it on the plane because of the failures of lower level operatives who probably weren't properly coordinated by either administration. why all this ridiculous politicization?

    February 17, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. John

    I think that if we put the Pakistan ISI and the CIA together, I think the brain power could successfully burn one piece of toast....maybe.

    February 17, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sam

    Two countries(india & Pakistan) who started at the same time.Gained independence at the same time.
    We talk of India as Growing Economy, largest democracy,secularism,amazing growth,free press, largest growing middle class, increasing number of billionaires.

    We talk of Pakistan as Al Quida hideouts,exporter of terrorism, bankrupt social infrastructure,Military regime, begging for money from the world,Madrassas training jehadis, letting go missiles and helicopter gunships on its own people, US launching drones in Pakistan.

    For 50 years Pakistan exported terrorism to India & now to the world.
    Now the fruits of its hard work has ripened. Payback time ...Pakis.Enjoy

    Amazing...two countries. Same history & neighbors but so far apart.

    February 17, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Conrad

    ISI(Pak Intelligence) pretty much know where these guys are from a broad perspective. Even Bin Laden,

    World politics in a different light....

    Nov: US: We need to kick some as* in Afghanistan.
    Dec: US: Whoops...CIA Bombing..makes US Pissed
    Jan: US to Pak...gotta do more...Pak: it will take us six months to fix S. Wazirastan
    Jan: Us to India: Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. What do you need.
    Jan: India to US: I'm fed up with Pak. One more major bombing and I'll kick their as*.
    Jan: US to India: Kewl. You've got the green light...but we need something in return.
    Feb: India to US: Don't come in the middle next time and we'll chat with Pak.
    Jan: US to Pak: They are gonna kick your as* next time..and don't try using the nukes.
    Jan: US to Pak: If you do, We'll kick ur as*.
    Feb: US to Pak: Want your as* saved. We'll get India on the table but you gotta cough up something worthwhile.
    Feb: Look who gets caught.

    February 17, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  16. johnleb

    Can you say Heroin?

    It's all about the heroin trade.. The paki's are getting their cut and they want the payoff. The entire ISI is totally corrupt, the country is a cesspool and they are making billions on the heroin trade, have been and still do... The Taliban didn't get this big off Saudi money.. control the drugs buy the arms, draft the peasants and you have a problem we have to spend billions on. If Air america, Contra's and other debacles didn't show us that people in the government were using their positions to profit off the drug trade, maybe this will. Kill off the drugs and you cut the root out of the Taliban. The only question is whether or not our government leaders will allow us to do so..

    February 17, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  17. jack steinborn

    But a few years ago american forces arrested Omar by himself.
    Why you let him escape ???????

    February 17, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  18. DTP

    Pakistan is the stong hold of Taliban, if US pressure pakistan I wonder they will find all the terrorist from Pakistan, Pakistan is the haven for terrorist, search the history of terrorist attack and you will find some links are always pointed to pakistan.

    February 17, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Eutycus

    What if they put a GPS device in him without him knowing it and let him escape? Cool huh? They could follow him and any messengers he sends out and could eventually track down Osama and Omar. Feasible, but would they do it??

    February 17, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Michael

    Its nice that this happened however there will be only another person to take his place. Evil always has a way to come back and so as long as the US is a world power this battle will continue for us. Makes me wonder why the other hundreds of countries dont lead this fight. What about switzerland, finland, germany, france, spain, holland, austria, new zealand, austrailia, china, japan, and so on.

    February 17, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Kelvin Brinks

    JJ "However, it is impressive that we have caught him. I however doubt he will say a word, whether we waterboard him or not"

    Waterboarding will not reveal good info – The clever interrogation techniques that are NOT torture DO reveal good info

    February 17, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Moe

    Glad to read the amount of cynicism of the above writers. I agree with them and know that this excitement about this capture is excessive because he will be quickly replaceed and the war will go on. Wish they would capture Bush, Chaney and the rest of the neocons who fabricated this war and go thousands of Americans and others killed.

    February 17, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  23. cecil

    The Geneva Convention and the interpretation on "rules of engagement" has caused this out of control situation. If our troops and special forces didnt have to worry about the damn American liberal media crucifying them, they could go in and do their job and exterminate this issue. Instead we continue to allow "pencil pushers" the authority to make calls from behind a desk 8000 miles away.

    February 17, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  24. william

    we should interogate,drug an inplant a tracking device inside his body an then let him escape track his moves for two months an come behind killing all with in his circle we will save time money an resourses,for future engagments with the enemy.......

    February 17, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Steve

    Jim, he is being tortured. Rest assured, he is being tortured now. He is not in the hands of the CIA, he is in the hands of hte Pakistani intelligence services and is getting the hell tortured out of himself. He will provide actionable intelligence. The CIA is present but not duplicitous in the torture of this individual.

    This will lead to a "break" so to speak. It may not necessarily lead to the capture of Bin laden et. al. of that level but will yield positive results for our fighting men and women over there.

    I agree that the waterboard his A$#@ crowd are interesting. There are much more violent and painful means to torture which will yield results which the Pakistanin intelligence services are utilizing now. He'll simply break quicker. Water boarding takes too long and the results are mixed. Me personally i don't like the method. It's really sort of an all or none when it comes to getting intel. Either torture or don't. If you do torture, it has to be of the most violent of nature possible which either kills, maims, or permanately mentally incapacitates the victim. Nasty stuff but honestly, the free world cares little for people of this sort.

    February 17, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  26. james

    I just want him to open his mouth and say how pakistani's have helped him to move around in lahore and karanchi. Let this open the eyes of the US and think how much aid they have wasted in that country.

    February 17, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Steven

    Has everyone forgotten that Pakistan funded the guys who flew the planes into the World Trade Centers? I guess so.

    February 17, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  28. kanishka

    Just two weeks back Pakistani Army chief Gen Kayani in London conference stressed that Pakistan wants the responsibility for the mediation/negotiation with the Afghanistani Talibans and India should be excluded in any post-US arrangement; here we have the second most important Taliban from the hat of Paksiatn. ISI/Pakistani army knows or have arranged the hideouts of Taliban and Al Queda's hiding places in Paksiatn since 2001. Indians know well how Pakistan can deceive any one in the world because they have the Islamic nuclear bomb and missiles to blackmail the world especially USA and the West. Thos e who think otherwise have no idea what ISI and Paksiatni army is capable of. They got away from the 1971 genocide of Bengalees in Bangladesh and since 1980 they are involved in mayhem in their neighborhood. Peace

    February 17, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  29. ceg

    Good job, now drug him heavily and get everything you need to get the rest and bring our troops home! Outstanding!

    February 17, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  30. DON

    What makes you think he has Miiranda rights in Pakistan? He wont be waterboarded either.Pakistans military interrogators use a more Medieval type of torture. He wont be getting much sleep and I would think he'll be kept in Pakistan. Their Leaders have had enough of those suicide bombers.

    February 17, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |

    Even if this guy gives us the exact locations of Bin Laden and Omar, what difference would it make? They both would have packed their bags and took off the moment this news was broadcast all over the world.

    How stupid are we for making this information public?

    February 17, 2010 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  32. JGunzz

    This is a total waste of time. Get our soldiers out of there. They are fighting an endless war. Baradar's capture means nothing in the total scope of the war. Is this even a war, or have we become the "terrorist" police marching around the world? What is our end goal? When will we be satisfied?

    Thank you to our soldiers on the ground, we are thinking of you!

    February 17, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  33. galaku

    For a safe world our Paki brothers need to do better than just bringing a somewhat Number 2. Anyway it is also good, for there're so many good people in Paki and they derserve to live a life free from terror.

    February 17, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
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