Taliban’s second in command in Afghanistan is captured

Great news, via the Long War Journal:

Pakistan’s top military intelligence service captured the Afghan Taliban’s deputy commander during a raid in the port city of Karachi.

The Inter-Service Intelligence agency, Pakistan’s military intelligence service, accompanied by officers from the US Central Intelligence Agency arrested Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Afghan Taliban’s second in command and the group’s operational commander, US officials told The New York Times.

Baradar has been a longtime leader in the Afghan Taliban and a close confidant of Mullah Mohammad Omar, the spiritual leader of the group. He is said to direct the Taliban’s Shura Majlis, or top leadership council. Baradar directed the Taliban’s day to day operations, and is in close contact with regional military commanders and the shadow governors. He also is said to control the Taliban’s purse strings.

The exact date of Baradar’s arrest was not given; it is not known if Baradar’s arrest has led to the capture of other senior Taliban leaders. As operational commander, Baradar will have extensive information on the Taliban’s strategy and its leadership cadre.

Here’s more from that NYT report:

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.

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 group’s leaders had been unaware of Mullah Baradar’s 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.

How courteous of the NYT to give the administration the benefit of sitting on news of the ongoing operation in order for the military to be able to carry out the mission, unlike how they treated similar operations during the Bush administration, as Michelle Malkin notes here.

As to the questioning of Mullah Baradar:

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.

Sigh. Why can’t the NYT provide factual background on the issue of waterboarding during the Bush administration by noting that it was only used on three high-value terrorist detainees and that the use of it had effectively ceased in 2005?

Oh yeah – it’s the NYT, that’s why.

Anyway, Bill Jacobson has some good questions:

According the The Times’ report, Baradar is being interrogated by both Pakistanis and Americans. If that is true, that is more good news.

We’ll see how this plays out. But it does raise the question of how far the interrogation will go.

Did the U.S. deliberately not take possession of Baladar so as to avoid the now-thorny issue of Baradar’s right to counsel and to remain silent?

And if so, what does that say about our policies regarding people, such as the failed Detroit airplane bomber, who are in our possession?

Not only that, but where will Baradar be detained and how long will he be detained there after he’s “questioned”? Bagram? Remember, early on in the administration the Obama Justice Dept. argued – contra Obama’s campaign promises to the contrary, of course, on the issue of “terrorist rights” – that the US had the right to indefinitely detain captured terrorists in Afghanistan. Not only that, but they also argued that the Bagram detainees had no Constitutional rights.

Essentially, as I’ve stated before, Bagram is Obama’s “legal” Gitmo, but it will be interesting to see how they handle this particular case, considering that it is a high-profile capture much like KSM’s that is being widely reported by the MSM. If they choose to hold Baradar indefinitely at Bagram without allowing him the “rights” they claim KSM and other terrorists who have been detained at Gitmo allegedly had/have, will the American people do what the MSM won’t by comparing the two cases and realizing that there is a disconnect between the Obama admin’s rhetoric and reality on the issue of “terrorist rights” and “indefinite detention”? Will they figure out that, contra the administration’s stated reasons for desiring to hold KSM’s trial in the United States (“justice” and “fairness”), that this is really all about putting the Bush admin on trial via proxy?

Let’s not forget that, in spite of the Obama administration’s public declaration that they want KSM’s trial to be a global symbol of the “fairness” of the US justice system, AG Eric Holder has already stated for the record that in the unlikely event that KSM is found innocent at trial KSM will not be released from US custody and may, in fact be sent to … Bagram. Will he one day join Baradar there?

So, while it’s great news that another high profile terrorist is now out of commission and is in the custody of US/Pakistan intelligence agents, the above questions – most of which you and I already know the answers to – remain. Let’s just hope the American people continue to open their eyes wider and eventually figure out what we’ve known all along about the administration’s selective arguments on “Constitutional rights” for admitted terrorists like KSM: it’s a farce, designed to not to administer justice to Islamofascist thugs but rather to put the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies on trial and, in effect, convict them in the court of public opinion.

As they say, stay tuned …

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