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Secret Joint Raid Captures Talibanís Top Commander

Old 02-15-10, 10:09 PM
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Secret Joint Raid Captures Talibanís Top Commander

Secret Joint Raid Captures Talibanís Top Commander

By MARK MAZZETTI and DEXTER FILKINS
Published: February 15, 2010

WASHINGTON ó The Talibanís top military commander was captured several days ago in Karachi, Pakistan, in a secret joint operation by Pakistani and American intelligence forces, according to American government officials.

The commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, is an Afghan described by American officials as the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the American-led war in Afghanistan started more than eight years ago. He ranks second in influence only to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Talibanís founder and a close associate of Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Mullah Baradar has been in Pakistani custody for several days, with American and Pakistani intelligence officials both taking part in interrogations, according to the officials.

It was unclear whether he was talking, but the officials said his capture had provided a window into the Taliban and could lead to other senior officials. Most immediately, they hope he will provide the whereabouts of Mullah Omar, the one-eyed cleric who is the groupís spiritual leader.

Disclosure of Mullah Baradarís capture came as American and Afghan forces were in the midst of a major offensive in southern Afghanistan.

His capture could cripple the Talibanís military operations, at least in the short term, said Bruce O. Riedel, a former C.I.A. officer who last spring led the Obama administrationís Afghanistan and Pakistan policy review.

Details of the raid remain murky, but officials said that it had been carried out by Pakistanís military spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, and that C.I.A. operatives had accompanied the Pakistanis.

The New York Times learned of the operation on Thursday, but delayed reporting it at the request of White House officials, who contended that making it public would end a hugely successful intelligence-gathering effort. The officials said that the groupís leaders had been unaware of Mullah Baradarís capture and that if it became public they might cover their tracks and become more careful about communicating with each other.

The Times is publishing the news now because White House officials acknowledged that the capture of Mullah Baradar was becoming widely known in the region.

Several American government officials gave details about the raid on the condition that they not be named, because the operation was classified.

American officials believe that besides running the Talibanís military operations, Mullah Baradar runs the groupís leadership council, often called the Quetta Shura because its leaders for years have been thought to be hiding near Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan Province in Pakistan.

The participation of Pakistanís spy service could suggest a new level of cooperation from Pakistanís leaders, who have been ambivalent about American efforts to crush the Taliban. Increasingly, the Americans say, senior leaders in Pakistan, including the chief of its army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, have gradually come around to the view that they can no longer support the Taliban in Afghanistan ó as they have quietly done for years ó without endangering themselves. Indeed, American officials have speculated that Pakistani security officials could have picked up Mullah Baradar long ago.

The officials said that Pakistan was leading the interrogation of Mullah Baradar, but that Americans were also involved. The conditions of the questioning are unclear. In its first week in office, the Obama administration banned harsh interrogations like waterboarding by Americans, but the Pakistanis have long been known to subject prisoners to brutal questioning.

American intelligence officials believe that elements within Pakistanís security services have covertly supported the Taliban with money and logistical help ó largely out of a desire to retain some ally inside Afghanistan for the inevitable day when the Americans leave.

The ability of the Talibanís top leaders to operate relatively freely inside Pakistan has for years been a source of friction between the ISI and the C.I.A. Americans have complained that they have given ISI operatives the precise locations of Taliban leaders, but that the Pakistanis usually refuse to act.

The Pakistanis have countered that the American intelligence was often outdated, or that faulty information had been fed to the United States by Afghanistanís intelligence service.

For the moment it is unclear how the capture of Mullah Baradar will affect the overall direction of the Taliban, who have so far refused to disavow Al Qaeda and to accept the Afghan Constitution. American officials have hoped to win over some midlevel members of the group.

Mr. Riedel, the former C.I.A. official, said that he had not heard about Mullah Baradarís capture before being contacted by The Times, but that the raid constituted a ďsea change in Pakistani behavior.Ē

In recent weeks, American officials have said they have seen indications that the Pakistani military and spy services may finally have begun to distance themselves from the Taliban. One Obama administration official said Monday that the White House had ďno reason to think that anybody was double-dealing at allĒ in aiding in the capture of Mullah Baradar.

A parade of American officials traveling to the Pakistani capital have made the case that the Afghan Taliban are now aligned with groups ó like the Pakistani Taliban ó that threaten the stability of the Pakistani government.

Mullah Baradar oversees the groupís operations across its primary area of activity in southern and western Afghanistan. While some of the insurgent groups active in Afghanistan receive only general guidance from their leaders, the Taliban are believed to be somewhat hierarchical, with lower-ranking field commanders often taking directions and orders from their leaders across the border.

In an attempt to improve the Talibanís image both inside the country and abroad, Mullah Baradar last year helped issue a ďcode of conductĒ for Taliban fighters. The handbook, small enough to be carried in the pocket of each Taliban foot soldier, gave specific guidance about topics including how to avoid civilian casualties, how to win the hearts and minds of villagers, and the necessity of limiting suicide attacks to avoid a backlash.

In recent months, a growing number of Taliban leaders are believed to have fled to Karachi, a sprawling, chaotic city in southern Pakistan hundreds of miles from the turbulence of the Afghan frontier. A diplomat based in Kabul, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said in an interview last month that Mullah Omar had moved to Karachi, and that several of his colleagues were there, too.

The leadership council, which includes more than a dozen of the Talibanís best-known leaders, charts the overall direction of the war, assigns Taliban ďshadow governorsĒ to run many Afghan provinces and districts, and chooses battlefield commanders. It also oversees a number of subcommittees that direct other aspects of the war, like political, religious and military affairs.

According to Wahid Muzhda, a former Taliban official in Kabul who stays in touch with former colleagues, the council meets every three or four months to plot strategy. As recently as three years ago, he said, the council had 19 members. Since then, six have been killed or captured. Others have since filled the empty seats, he said.

Among the council members killed were Mullah Dadullah, who died during a raid by NATO and Afghan forces in 2007. Among the captured were Mullah Obaidullah, the Taliban defense minister, who reported to Mr. Baradar.

ďThe only man more powerful than Baradar is Omar,Ē Mr. Muzhda said. ďHe and Omar cannot meet very often because of security reasons, but they have a very good relationship.Ē

Western and Afghan officials familiar with the workings of the Talibanís leadership have described Mullah Baradar as one of the Talibanís most approachable leaders, and the one most ready to negotiate with the Afghan government.

Mediators who have worked to resolve kidnappings and other serious issues have often approached the Taliban leadership through him.

As in the case of the reclusive Mullah Omar, the public details of Mullah Baradarís life are murky. According to an Interpol alert, he was born in 1968 in Weetmak, a village in Afghanistanís Oruzgan Province. Terrorism experts describe him as a skilled military leader who runs many high-level meetings of the Talibanís top commanders in Afghanistan.

In answers to questions submitted by Newsweek last summer, Mullah Baradar said that he could not maintain ďcontinuous contactsĒ with Mullah Omar, but that he received advice on ďimportant topicsĒ from the cleric.

In the same interview, Mullah Baradar said he welcomed a large increase in American troops in Afghanistan because the Taliban ďwant to inflict maximum losses on the Americans, which is possible only when the Americans are present here in large numbers and come out of their fortified places.Ē

Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mullah Baradar was assigned by Mullah Omar to assume overall command of Taliban forces in northern Afghanistan. In that role, he oversaw a large group of battle-hardened Arab and foreign fighters who were based in the northern cities of Kunduz and Mazar-i-Sharif.

In November 2001, as Taliban forces collapsed after the American invasion, Mullah Baradar and several other senior Taliban leaders were captured by Afghan militia fighters aligned with the United States. But Pakistani intelligence operatives intervened, and Mullah Baradar and the other Taliban leaders were released, according to a senior official of the Northern Alliance, the group of Afghans aligned with the United States.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/16/wo...6intel.html?hp

Good news indeed!
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Old 02-15-10, 10:37 PM
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Re: Secret Joint Raid Captures Talibanís Top Commander

I wonder if info from him is what brought about this new offensive that has been going on for the past day or two?
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Old 02-15-10, 10:51 PM
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Re: Secret Joint Raid Captures Talibanís Top Commander

I'm glad the raid was a secret.
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Old 02-15-10, 11:21 PM
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Re: Secret Joint Raid Captures Talibanís Top Commander

So does he go to civilian court in New York like KSM?
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Old 02-15-10, 11:39 PM
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Re: Secret Joint Raid Captures Talibanís Top Commander

Originally Posted by Red Dog View Post
I'm glad the raid was a secret.
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Old 02-16-10, 12:30 AM
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Re: Secret Joint Raid Captures Talibanís Top Commander

Nice to see a joint operation with Pakistan lead to something.

And hopefully we read him his Miranda rights the moment we got him. No telling what those Pakistani savages might have done to him.
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Old 02-16-10, 05:46 AM
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Re:

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
Secret Joint Raid Captures Talibanís Top Commander
Duplicate thread:

http://forum.dvdtalk.com/politics-wo...cy-issued.html
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Old 02-16-10, 07:44 AM
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Re: Secret Joint Raid Captures Talibanís Top Commander

Originally Posted by X View Post
So does he go to civilian court in New York like KSM?
If Holder has anything to say about it - probably.
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Old 02-16-10, 08:05 AM
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Re: Secret Joint Raid Captures Talibanís Top Commander

Originally Posted by X View Post
So does he go to civilian court in New York like KSM?
Do we want to hold him as a prisoner of war, to be released when hostilities are over? Do we want to prosecute him for war crimes? Or do we want to put him in jail for the rest of his miserable life for conspiring with al Qaeda to kill Americans? Depending on which we want to do, we need to figure out the Constitutionally appropriate way to proceed.
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Old 02-16-10, 08:47 AM
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Re: Secret Joint Raid Captures Talibanís Top Commander

You forgot the best alternative - shoot him in the head.

POW? Probably.
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Old 02-16-10, 09:55 AM
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Re: Secret Joint Raid Captures Talibanís Top Commander

In any event, this is really good news. One has to wonder about Pakistan's willingness to participate in certain endeavors over the past several years and this is a good sign.
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Old 02-16-10, 10:14 AM
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Re: Secret Joint Raid Captures Talibanís Top Commander

Originally Posted by Thor Simpson View Post
In any event, this is really good news. One has to wonder about Pakistan's willingness to participate in certain endeavors over the past several years and this is a good sign.
They threw us a bone. They will continue the straddle the line between the US and the terrorists living in their country.

That being said, it's good that we got this bastard.
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Old 02-16-10, 10:26 AM
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Re: Secret Joint Raid Captures Talibanís Top Commander

I just hope we torture the ever-lovin shit out of this guy.

Long after any intelligence is even possible, he gets tortured for no good reason then too.
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Old 02-16-10, 10:28 AM
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Re: Secret Joint Raid Captures Talibanís Top Commander

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
Do we want to hold him as a prisoner of war, to be released when hostilities are over? Do we want to prosecute him for war crimes? Or do we want to put him in jail for the rest of his miserable life for conspiring with al Qaeda to kill Americans? Depending on which we want to do, we need to figure out the Constitutionally appropriate way to proceed.
Constitutionally, he is Pakistan's prisoner, not ours; we should keep it that way.

I'm sure they are better at making him cry for his mommy and sing like a bird than we are. When they are done, I'm sure he can quietly vanish, never to be seen again in a way that can't happen in the US. It's all good.

Only if they start to talk about releasing him should we step up and take custody.
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Old 02-16-10, 10:34 AM
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Re: Secret Joint Raid Captures Talibanís Top Commander

Originally Posted by VinVega View Post
They threw us a bone. They will continue the straddle the line between the US and the terrorists living in their country
Agreed. It's just nice when they trip and that line they are straddling hits them in the nuts a little bit.
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Old 02-16-10, 11:40 AM
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Re: Secret Joint Raid Captures Talibanís Top Commander

Originally Posted by Dr Mabuse View Post
I just hope we torture the ever-lovin shit out of this guy.

Long after any intelligence is even possible, he gets tortured for no good reason then too.
There is always a good reason.
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