Top Taliban Commander Arrested in Pakistan

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

There's word today that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, reportedly the Taliban's second in command and an associate of Osama bin Laden, is being held in Karachi, Pakistan.

Baradar was arrested in a joint CIA-Pakistani operation several days ago and is "talking" to investigators. The New York Times says it first learned of Baradar's arrest last Thursday but held the story until now at the request of the White House.

In Pakistan and Afghanistan, there's some speculation as to why Barader was arrested, and whether he was arrested at all.

"If Pakistani officials had wanted to arrest him, they could have done it at any time," Sher Mohammad Akhud Zada, the former governor of Afghanistan's Helmand province and a member of the Afghan parliament, told The Associated Press. "Why did they arrest him now?"

"We totally deny this rumor. He has not been arrested," Zabiullah Mujahid said over the phone. Mujahid said the report was Western propaganda aimed at undercutting the Taliban fighting in Marja, Afghanistan.

NATO and the Afghan military are in Day 4 of their offensive against Taliban insurgents in Marja. Militants have reportedly stepped up counterattacks, slowing the allied advance. NATO says 15 civilians have died in the fighting so far.

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