February 17th, 2010
11:58 AM ET

U.S. military official: Baradar arrest won't alter current fighting

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The dramatic arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar - the military leader of the Afghan Taliban - represents a setback for the Taliban, but for now it won't directly affect the fighting in Afghanistan, a senior U.S. military official tells CNN.  Baradar and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar are said to have orchestrated the Taliban's military activities from Quetta, Pakistan.

The official said Tuesday that Baradar and the rest of the Afghan Taliban leadership in Quetta have provided "overall strategic direction" to their fighters, but not "tactical control" over their actions, so there will be little effect on Operation Moshtarak, the major offensive U.S. Marines are waging against the Taliban in the Marjah area of Helmand province. 

"The Taliban in the Marjah area will fight according to local commanders direction/guidance," the source told CNN.

The fight and other matters in the dangerous Afghan-Pakistani region will be front and center in Washington when President Barack Obama huddles with his national security team Wednesday morning to discuss the conflicts in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Obama will be meeting with Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and CIA Director Leon Panetta.

The arrest, a joint U.S.-Pakistani operation, appears to signal a greater willingness by Pakistan to cooperate with the United States.

"I think the administration deserves kudos," said former CIA officer Gary Berntsen, speaking on CNN's "American Morning" Wednesday.

Reuel Marc Gerecht, another former CIA officer, told CNN the arrest is "a real blow" for the Taliban and will cause the militants "pain in the short term."

Baradar has been a close associate of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and is seen as the Afghan Taliban's number two figure behind Mullah Mohammed Omar. Authorities hope the seizure could produce information that could help fight the Taliban and possibly lead to key militant figures, such as Mullah Omar and bin Laden.

Filed under: Baradar • Operation Moshtarak • Taliban
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Saar - Israel

    Go USA. you are the true leaders of the free world. Israel loves you. Every israeli person supports you, and wishing you good luck fighting the terrorists. Not like theeuropians, who are sitting comfortably in their country, and just critisize while the real men are fighting terror.

    February 25, 2010 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. A. Smith, Oregon

    In a related move, a U.S. official said Wednesday that another Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Salam, a "shadow governor" of Afghanistan's Kunduz province, has been captured by Pakistani authorities.

    When does the Pakistani authorities arrest President Karzi's competition and most vocal critics? NEVER. That is like saying the Pakistani ISI is actively helping India pursue the Mumbai terrorists, SURE.

    What is really going on in Pakistan? Is the ISI-CIA setting up a military coup in Pakistan?

    February 18, 2010 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
  3. Nancy Graham

    Another high-ranking leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Mullah Salam, has been captured by a joint U.S.- Pakistani intelligence operation.Now thats two with the arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. The noose seems to be getting tighter for the Taliban leaders. Sure would be nice to hear Osama Bin Laden getting caught. This war needs to end.

    February 17, 2010 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JKF

    Very good news when a terrorist leader is captured alive- bad news that the information about his capture made the front pages in less than 30 days. 3 to 4 weeks would be more useful in terms of getting his cooperation and getting both tactical and strategic information. Let us hope that from his capture the finance, logistics and supply chain details, used by the terrorists, are retrived. Mullah Omar and OBL can't be very far away, that is if OBL is alive. Given OBL's health problems, reported years ago, he must be on dialysis, or he got a kidney transplant; if he did get such a transplant, and given his age, he must be on anti-rejection drugs... in either case he must be treated and such supplies are required; such supplies are not readily available!

    February 17, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |