Arrest of Mullah Omar's deputy a big success: US

Washington : The capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's Number 2, is a big success to the Obama Administration and a personal blow to the elusive Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar, top US officials have said.

"This operation was an enormous success," a senior official told ABC News after the news about the arrest of Mullah Baradar was first reported by The New York Times.

"It is a very big deal," the official said, adding that Baradar is now providing intelligence.

A US counter-terrorism official, while refusing to confirm the news of Baradar's capture, told ABC News that "if he were taken off the battlefield, it would deal a major setback to the Afghan Taliban and be a personal blow to Mullah Omar, who has relied heavily on him for years.

Last summer, in an interview to the Newsweek, Mullah Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, the former foreign minister in the Taliban regime said that Omar has put Baradar in charge.

It was Omar's idea and his policy to stay quiet in a safe place, because he has a high price on his head, while Baradar leads.

Baradar had told the Newsweek in an interview, "The history of Afghanistan shows that Afghans never get tired of struggling until they have freed their country.

We shall continue our jihad till the expulsion of our enemy from our land."

In a news analysis, Stratfor, strategic think-tank said, "While his arrest is a major development in that never before has someone so senior been arrested since the Taliban was driven from power over eight years ago, it is unclear that this arrest will have a major impact on the battlefield.

"It is unlikely that a single individual would be the umbilical cord between the leadership council and the military commanders in the field, particularly a guerrilla force such as the Taliban," it said.

Even more significant than Baradar's capture will be the "how" of the event, it said.

"Initial reports suggest that Pakistani intelligence played a critical and perhaps decisive roll.

The timing of his arrest within days of the kicking off of the first major offensive in the US surge strategy, Operation Moshtarak, suggests that America and Pakistan are co-operating very closely, which though a major change in Islamabad's behaviour (given Pakistan?s historical relationship with the Afghan Taliban) is not entirely unexpected," Stratfor said.

"Until now US forces have been operating at a severe intelligence deficit, a major handicap in a guerrilla conflict.

Baradar's capture suggests that at least in some small way this intelligence deficit is being addressed," he said.
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