I’d waited to write on this until it was confirmed, and now it is: In a joint operation, the Pakistan Interservices Intelligence agency and the CIA captured the Taliban’s top military commander, a man second only to Mullah Omar himself:
Secret Joint Raid Captures Taliban’s Top Commander
By MARK MAZZETTI and DEXTER FILKINS
The Taliban’s 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 Taliban’s 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 group’s spiritual leader.
Disclosure of Mullah Baradar’s capture came as American and Afghan forces were in the midst of a major offensive in southern Afghanistan.
His capture could cripple the Taliban’s military operations, at least in the short term, said Bruce O. Riedel, a former C.I.A. officer who last spring led the Obama administration’s Afghanistan and Pakistan policy review.
Details of the raid remain murky, but officials said that it had been carried out by Pakistan’s military spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, and that C.I.A. operatives had accompanied the Pakistanis.
Naturally the Pakistanis are denying the CIA was involved in the raid. I don’t blame them; not only is the issue of an American, especially CIA, presence sensitive in Pakistan, but the ISI has been playing a double game between the US and the jihadists, especially the Taliban, with whom they have a long and paternal relationship. Confirming that they had stabbed their clients in the back would only earn them more suicide bombs in the capital and the Urdu-speaking heartland than they’re already going to get.
And I have to give rare credit to the New York Times, which sat on the story at the administration’s request for several days, until rumors became rife in the region. This preserved the value of the intelligence we were getting from this slime. Good job, guys. Now, if only you’d see fit to be that concerned about national security during Republican administrations….
Regardless, this is a major coup for the US and its allies, and a body blow to the Taliban. This piece of walking garbage knows plans, names, locations… everything. It would be as if they had captured General McChrystal, our commander in the region. Baradar is close to Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden – want to bet they moved faster than they have since October, 2001, when the word got around?
And the capture takes place just as we’re launching a major offensive against the Taliban. Kind of like taking out Rommel at the start of the North Africa campaign.
This is truly good news, and congratulations to the Obama administration.
But, I have to ask, is it wrong of me to want to waterboard this escapee from a 7th century lunatic asylum? I mean, think of all the evil these schmucks have done since taking over Afghanistan – a few pours is the least any of their leaders deserve.
Oh, okay. It’d be wrong, but it would still feel good.
LINKS: More at Hot Air, which links to a Newsweek profile of Baradar ; Legal Insurrection, which wonders about the interrogation; Power Line, which wonders why we didn’t get him a lawyer; The Jawa Report; Sister Toldjah; Threat Matrix, which wonders why Pakistan gave up Mullah Baradar; and Hot Air, again, asking how it was done.