February 16th, 2010
08:44 AM ET

Taliban capture could be 'gold mine' of intel

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.


Filed under: Baradar • Taliban
soundoff (125 Responses)
  1. NChe

    C'mon, all you folk crying out for torture are not interested in information. It's either a vengeance thing or it's an enthusiastic blood-thirsty crowd gathered 'round the guillotine/hangman's noose thing.

    Information gathering, riiiigggghhtt. Given enough torture, every last one of you would be swearing the sky was a lovely shade of orange, that a giant hermit crab gave birth to the world, that you were the spawn of a turkey and a rhododendron.

    February 21, 2010 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. Philip

    It's laughable that folks here keep referring to "Miranda Rights" as if this were a repeat of the 1960s and 1970s version of the law-and-order culture war. This isn't about the Miranda decision, so PLEASE get some updated talking points. It's about how we treat people we deem to be our enemies in a state of war. Or do you deny it is a state of war? You want to treat our enemies harshly? History will judge YOU harshly. Not being "official" national enemies will have nothing to do with it. Torture is torture, everywhere and at all times. As for the claim that being a "terrorist" somehow makes these folks different than other POWs, I can only assume that you've never been in a real war and certainly not in a civil war. All War IS TERRORISM. It's also heroism, and sacrifice, and violent and glorious and ugly and vicious and ADD your preferred description here _____. You fight to win, you assume you are on the side of righteousness, but you don't torture or mistreat your enemies when you have them in your control - EVER!!! The Geneva convention isn't a rule you can dance around, it's an embodiment of a principle of civilization that is UNIVERSAL. Some of you folks seem to think it's just a damn contract.

    February 17, 2010 at 5:37 am | Report abuse |
  3. Geovanny

    To:Franswa

    You say bring them to the U.S and have them work for minimum wage, take the bus everywhere, and live in public housing... did you know that for some people that would be a blessing.I lived in the USA for 18 years and was deported to my country over some BS, I make $2.75 and hour and have to live in the freaken ghetto, our government can give a rats ass if you starve or not. There is no Food Stamps,Medicaid,Section 8,no $6.75 min.wage(last time i had a job in cali)Unemplyment,SSI like you spoiled people, the use helps people who need it, not who just are to lazy to get a job. I understand there is an economic problem, but hey welcome to the real world. People here have to sell candy all day just to get 5 bucks, but yet you guys cant hold a 9 to 5... please!!! some Americans(I now exclude myself because I have to) dont even care about this war, all they care about is there welfare check...while good people are dying out there...i say torture this foo untill alah comes to save his ass... you fight fire with fire....

    February 16, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Just Me

    Why would we read this guy his Miranda rights when 1) He was arrested in Pakistan and 2) He is in Pakistani custody? You wouldn't just walk into a Pakistani prison and read them to every person in the building would you? He's theirs. We may get a crack at him, but if we aren't charging him with a crime and they are, we can ask questions and not worry about the rest. Let them sweat that stuff.

    February 16, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. A. Smith, Oregon

    If the news on his capture is truthful and factual, he was in Pakistan and the Pakistiani ISI agency was involved. The ISI was setup by the CIA and is a mirror of that agency in Pakistan. Meaning, how or even why this man was 'captured' is likely not part of the published report. When America and America's media offhandedly accept CIA and ISI reports as entirely factual, they are making a large mistake in the field of factual journalism. Perhaps in the weeks and months ahead, a more factual, truthful and accurate account of what if anything took place will be released to the public.

    If factual, the Pakistani ISI knew this man was in their country for a LONG TIME, why turn him in now? Did America just make a billion taxpayer dollar payment to Pakistan? Is this capture meant to ease the sagging relationship with neighboring India? I sincerely doubt News Media will be permitted to even ask those questions, much less investigate them.

    February 16, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tom

    Miranda rights not needed! This is not the USA where they captured and are holding him, and he's not a US citizen. So that is just the most whacky and dumb suggestion. Read him the Constitution, just for kicks, but Miranda?

    Torture does not work much of the time in that you get so-called intel but it cannot be distinguished from all the other garbage a person spews when they are having their fingers crushed, nipples electrocuted, water poured down their throats, and so on. Ask any question under these circumstances and you WILL get an answer. The tortured will say ANYTHING!

    February 16, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jason attorney

    Great job men and women of intelligence and armed forces of all countries! In response to the above, we are not bound by International Law on the matter. that is an ignorant statement. We are bound by US law and treaties the US signs into affect. According to whom you ask, we may or may not be bound by international treaties regarding the capture of the Taliban leader. Why? Because, arguably, there is not declared war and he is not a uniformed soldier. He is a civilian of some decent that is reputed to have killed thousands. Pakistan can hang him and there would be no violation of laws except those which the Pakistanis enforce. As we all know, Pakistan is a military dictatorship, therefore, the rule of law does not exist. Get the info, discard the body, move on.

    February 16, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tom

    You Americans are incredible.

    Seventy years ago, your nation fought a great war. That war was fought to ensure a victory for freedom over fascism. What have you done with that newly won freedom?

    Turned into fascists yourselves.

    The number of people calling for the torture of this prisoner is incredible... where is your humanity?

    Something tells me the next great war will be fought against the West.

    February 16, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Peter

    Folks...why do so many of you bash the efforts of the United States of America on your behalf. We have special forces and ops that are doing their jobs very well and dying around the world for you. My family has fought in every war since the Revolution and I am very proud that a) we see serious high level arrests being made and b) when arrests are made in our territory we follow our laws EXACTLY, not make them up to suit our illegal needs. We live in a land of laws and this Christmas bomber is singing like a canary using regular FBI techniques, not torture which is proven ineffective. Personally, I think you bashers are a bunch of unpatriotic whiners when in fact more enemies have been Predatored to death and captured under Obama's first year than all 8 years of Bu**sh**. You know this guy was arrested in Pakistan right? They don't have Miranda rights over there but a lot of guys died so you have them over here. And this is not really a "war" because there is no country to attack...therefor logic tells us this is a police action to catch common criminals. Quit being so afraid of these guys.

    February 16, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ken

    How can it be a big deal? If the Christmas bomber is any indication he's already been read the miranda warning and has a team of high priced defense attorneys. He has no doubt been provided the Consitutional protection afforded other new American citizens and will be treated like a criminal defendant, and not a terrorist. Good thing waterboarding and all other "unconventional techniques" have been abandoned – this man's civil rights are much more important than ten tof thousands of American lives. By the time the ACLU is done, he'll be released with the sincerest of apologies by obama himself. Afterall, the only thing that really matters here is how advanced we are as a civilization by treating mass murderers like shoplifters. Can you say "naive, childish and arrogant?"

    February 16, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bill - windy city

    Since when do we not give rights to those we capture – you think that things are different under UCMJ. You have rights under the UCMJ that are not too much different that what you get in a public court. By the way, either you support our justice system or you don't. If we don't have enough evidence to convict him of a crime, we must let him go regardless of his skin color or what religon he belongs to – enough of the racism already.

    February 16, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. gandhi

    we have to remember to be moral to all people – even toward our enemies. An eye for an eye will make us all blind. When we kill these people – we become like them.

    February 16, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MommaM

    Couldn't agree more – thank goodness for those who serve and get the job done:

    "You guys are pathetic! We achieve a significant intel victory in the context of a major military offensive and the Pakistanis are interrogating him. That's good news! Think of our boots on the ground not petty political sound bites!"

    February 16, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. adam

    Its not that big of a deal. And it does not make much difference. (Do you feel safer?) It is all just hype. Ok.. lets see what happens in 3 weeks.. if there isn't a bigger terrorist attack to prove they are not weakened, then you can tell me I'm wrong. Lets see how they react.. when their mission is common.. i'm not even sure if a "Leader" is necessary.

    February 16, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Criitical Thinker

    An Article 31(b) UCMJ military warning is the same as a Miranda warning. Military members have the right against self incrimination too.
    http://usmilitary.about.com/od/justicelawlegislation/l/aa31rights.htm

    February 16, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Caleb

    Boy some of you folks are really really cynical. I get a laugh out of some of the comments. Some of you would kill every person who didnt look like you and some would believe everything the Obama Administration says.

    I like the surge strategy (a George Bush devised strategy) and the increased use of the predator drones (Bush started that again) and I think we are headed in a more decisive direction than we were maybe 3 years ago.

    On this guy's capture..........anytime you can get field commanders I dont think it can be understated. He probably knows more than a low-level guy OR Laden himself. We have seen how little this really means however. They will re-group and we are still left with upping our training of Afghan troops as the only means for us to win this war.

    One thing is for certain, though, it strikes fear into them when we show we can get who we want when we want. Whether its leveraging Pakistan's inside info or hitting them with a hellfire missile from a drone...........we are getting internal info from a cooperating source and that has to be scaring the Taliban in general but especially the leaders who have been killed in droves over the past year or so.

    Its simple in the end for them.........lay down your weapons or die. Whether thats by the hands of the US now or Afghan soldiers later..........you will die eventually if you dont choose to live.

    February 16, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Chauncey Jenkins

    If its possible that this clown knows where Osama Bin Laden is, why wouldn't they try to keep his capture as quiet as possible? Wouldn't OBL be smart enough to realize that his position may be compromised since this guy was caught? By the time this guy says anything, OBL will be long gone.

    As for torture, I'm no fan of it and I think that people will say whatever you want them to, but if I had to choose between waterboarding (what we do) or having my head cut off and the video posted on the internet (what they do), I'd take waterboarding 9 times out of 10.

    February 16, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Jeremy

    Sounds like he's singing like a canary. If he doesn't stop talking, maybe they can waterboard him.

    February 16, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Steve

    I remember 9/11. I remember the declared war on Afghanistan. I remember all of our fellow countrymen that have served there. I remember all of the other heinous things the taliban/alquida stand for and have done. However, what should separate us from these folks is the recognition of "inalienable rights" of individuals no matter where they are from, or what they believe. If we are not philosophically or morally superior to these folks, then we are no different than these folks. A clanging cymbal.........

    February 16, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Peter T

    Ok so some of you Americans (I am a Canadian) think that a terrorist leader from Pakistan should be read their Miranda rights LOL!!!!
    First off, they are a military detainee. Second of all terrorists shouldnt be protected by the Geneva Convention because they are not uniformed representatives of an armed force for a country. So nothing should apply to them for protecting their "rights". Terrorists shouldnt have rights.
    Now I will venture a guess that everyone posting on this site a negative comment about the capture of this guy or that he should be treated humanely are either anti war sympathizers or terrorist sympathizers. you are one or both.
    If your antiwar thats fine you can beleive in what you wish and you can protest it too but for those who are saying this guy needs to be treated "nicely" get your heads out of your behinds and think logically for a second. The guy is a terrorist promoting the drug trade and the abuse of Afghanistan children and woman's rights. This is a very complicated situation and for American people to simply make off the cuff and idiotic remarks really shows us to the North how proud we should be that we are nothing like you idiots.

    February 16, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Fatboyslim

    I am sure that once this guy goes through rehab, he will be an upstanding citizen. Leave him alone – he didn't do anything to you.

    February 16, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Brian

    It is really entertaining the politcal posturing in this room continues. Many of you are so hung up on semantics that you do not recognize how great this capture is. How does one read a story about a high level military comander and terrorist being apprehended conclude that the President is somehow making us somehow weakening our national security? What?? Please think

    February 16, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Robbie from Tulsa

    It is a shame we will never have answers to any of these questions. Under the Obama policy, we can get the guy a Coke and ask him what he knows. After he pours out the drink and spits in the integrators faces, we can only send him to cell and ask him Please next time.

    February 16, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  24. tcaudilllg

    Oh my god... everything we've been told about the whereabouts of UBL... was it bogus? Has our government been lying to us this whole time?

    February 16, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  25. JBooser

    As a former military member, I feel there is no punishment harsh enough for the crime they committed back on 9/11. The only thing I can thing of for what he needs is to be burned alive.

    February 16, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
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