The Taliban's top military leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, has been captured, senior U.S. and Pakistani officials told CNN. He is considered the No. 2 political figure to the Taliban's founder Mullah Mohammed Omar. CNN's Anderson Cooper talked with CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen and Robin Wright, a fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, about what this capture means.
BERGEN: [This is] a huge deal, arguably more important than Mullah Omar from a military point of view, because Mullah Omar really is more of a religious figure than an operational commander of the Taliban.
This guy also is the number two political figure in the Taliban. The fact that he was discovered in Karachi is very significant. Karachi is the largest city in Pakistan. It's a long way from where the war is being fought, indicates that the Pakistani intelligence services and CIA cooperating very closely on a very high-value target.
COOPER: Doesn't it also kind of give a lie to what the Pakistanis have been saying for ages now, which is that, look, the Taliban is operating in Afghanistan, they're not operating here in Pakistan? If you have the number-two guy of the Afghan Taliban in Karachi, that certainly seems to indicate a heavy presence inside Pakistan itself.
BERGEN: Indeed. Well, it's a good news/bad news story. The bad news is that these guys have been in Pakistan all along. The good news is that the politics are shifting around this issue in the last year or so, and the Pakistani government and military are basically - they realize they created a Frankenstein monster that's begun to attack them and they're willing to not only move against the Pakistani Taliban, but with this news, against the Afghan - so-called Afghan Taliban, which is in fact headquartered in Pakistan.
COOPER: "The New York Times" is reporting that this Taliban military commander is basically being interrogated - the interrogation is being led by Pakistanis, but also that U.S. officials are involved. Obviously, that raises issues of how this guy is going to be dealt with, because the U.S. now says they don't torture. Pakistan obviously has a history of being pretty tough with people they have in custody.
What kind of intelligence could this guy possibly give?
WRIGHT: Well, one of the important things to recognize, that while he's a huge catch in terms of understanding the organization as it's in total, the Taliban is in many ways a decentralized force, and it's not necessarily that he is going to be involved in knowing what every single unit on the ground is doing.
The critical issue is how much will he talk and provide information on where other assets are, potentially where the Taliban in Pakistan are, and, of course, the United States would love to know where Osama bin Laden, himself, is.
BERGEN: Not to mention Mullah Omar, who, after all, is Mullah Baradar's boss, and he might well know where Mullah Omar is. These guys are in constant contact. Now, that kind of information is pretty perishable.
The Taliban is a decentralized group. But the Quetta Shura, which runs the southern Taliban, the one that's doing the operation in Marjah, the one that's in Helmand, the one that's in Kandahar in the south, is run by essentially Mullah Omar and this guy.
And, so, certainly, in terms of the information about the southern Afghanistan operations of the Taliban, this guy is potentially a gold mine.