Tuesday, February 16, 2010

From the Christian Science Monitor:

The Afghanistan Taliban's chief military commander was captured in a joint
operation between Pakistani and American spy agencies near Karachi. Agents from
the two countries nabbed Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in the Pakistani commercial
capital of Karachi 10 days ago. News of his arrest broke Monday night. Mr.
Baradar is said to be the Taliban's No. 2, working underneath Mullah Omar as the
organization's top military commander for southern Afghanistan.

This may be the biggest story coming out of the Af/Pak region since the battle of Tora Bora. The capture of Mullah Baradar may have far reaching consequences, and may provide an intelligence coup for both Pakistan and ISAF forces. As the head of the Quetta shura, Military Commander for Southern Afghanistan, and generally bad guy, taking Baradar out of play (especially during the Marjah offensive) will lead to confusion and disorder among the Afghani Taliban -- as well as possibly exposing actionable intelligence on the Afghani Taliban network.

At worst, his aprehension will force top AQ agents (including OBL), and Taliban leadership like Mullah Omar and his lieutenants to take to ground and go black -- at best, it may lead to their capture as well. Either way, the arrest of Baradar will have far reaching consequences. It also marks a change in Pakistan's approach to the Afghani Taliban -- a group they have largely ignored, instead using their ISI to target Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (TTP) within their own borders. Should the ISI cooperate with US Intelligence, we may see quite a few major arrests in the next few months.

For the moment, it appears that the ISI has taken the lead on the inprisonment and interrogation of Abdul Ghani Baradar, with US Intelligence taking a more observatory role. More analysis to come soon!


Matt Green said...

I'm glad to see that we are back to more clandestine methods of outsourcing our "interrogations" again. With Obama's stance on torture do you think we really put up much of a fight? I'll be waiting on pins and needles for when Baradar gets his day in court just like KSM. I figure it will be after he is done sharing tea and raspberry scones with the nice fellows that conduct ISI interrogations, because to quote a reliable source - "It isn't torture if you can survive it".

I wonder how many finger nails Baradar has lost in the 3 minutes it took me to write this response...

Jeff Schneider said...

And herin lies the rub! The difference between KSM and Baradar is that the ISI has Baradar, not the FBI -- so it will be up to the Pakistanis or Afghans to try him in court... not the US. It is a difficult situation, to be sure, since the US has no way to dictating how he is treated or if he will be tried. That being said, what the US is doing is observing his detention/interrogations. If he is being tortured, that becomes difficult -- should we or should we not benefit from the malfeasance of our allies?

Matt Green said...

How much of Baradar being in ISI hands is the CIA placating to the sovereignty of Pakistan? and maintaining the illusion of military, police and governmental strength through out the country? With out it looking like they are the US terrorist hunting lap dog?

I agree it is a difficult situation. Passing blame/responsibility for interrogation to the ISI does wipe our hands clean to some extent. But it raises an interesting question of interrogation methods that goes back to the Bush/Cheney. Is torture an effective method for coercing information? And if not, then why not share, as we are "observers", more effective methods information gathering? Wouldn't it be for everyone's benefit?

But all this could be a pedantic exercise in conjecture , maybe Baradar is doing just fine.

Matt Green said...

On another note, Jeff I am relying on you to write something about the "Dubai Death Squad". What a kick ass nickname!

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