The United States and Pakistani intelligence forces have captured the Taliban's top military commander in a secret joint operation in Karachi, according to the online edition of The New York Times. Billed as the most significant Taliban figure since the start of the US-led war in Afghanistan eight years ago and second only to Taliban founder Mohammad Omar, Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was captured several days ago and is in Pakistani custody with US officials taking part in his interrogation.
Baradar, an Afghani, was a close associate of al Qa'eda leader Osama bin Laden before the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. US officials believe he is in charge of the Taliban's military operations and the Taliban's leadership council. The unnamed US officials told the daily they hoped his capture will lead to other senior Taliban officials. They said the Pakistanis were in charge of Baradar's interrogation, but that Americans were also involved.
The details of Baradar's capture were not clear, but it was carried out by Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives, the daily said. The joint operation suggests a new level of cooperation from Pakistan's leaders, who have been reluctant to give full support to US anti-Taliban efforts. Baradar's capture comes in the middle of a major US, NATO and Afghan troop offensive on a Taliban stronghold in opium-rich Marjah, Afghanistan, one of the biggest military operations since the 2001 US-led invasion brought down the Taliban regime.