Yet Another Taliban Leader Captured

Yet another leader of the Afghan Taliban has reportedly been captured by authorities in Pakistan. Counterterrorism sources in the U.S. and Pakistan, requesting anonymity when discussing sensitive information, identified the latest Taliban chief to be arrested as Maulvi Abdul Kabir, described as a former regional governor during the days when the Taliban ran Afghanistan's government.

The circumstances of Kabir's capture are unclear. According to a report in Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper, his arrest may have occurred last Saturday somewhere near the meeting place of the the Peshawar Shura, a governing body subsidiary to the Taliban's principal expatriate council, known as the Quetta Shura. The Globe and Mail identifies Kabir as a former governor of Afghanistan's Nangahar province in the years before 9/11 when the Taliban ran Afghanistan. The newspaper suggests that Kabir had been serving recently as leader of the Peshawar Shura.

Credible reports of Kabir's capture have been received in Washington, according to a U.S. official, but American officials don't yet have 100 percent confirmation of his arrest and apparently have not yet had an opportunity to see or question Kabir. Kabir's reported capture is the latest development in what appears to be perhaps the most sweeping crackdown on Afghan Taliban leaders in Pakistan since they fled to Pakistan along with Al Qaeda's central command in the wake of 9/11.

In addition to Kabir, Pakistani forces have rounded up at least one (and maybe two) Afghan Taliban "shadow governors" since the beginning of the month, as well as Mullah Abdel Ghani Baradar, the deputy of the Afghan Taliban's supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar.At least some of the arrests─Baradar's among them─resulted from intelligence tipoffs provided to Pakistani authorities by U.S. agencies. And at least some of the men recently arrested─including Mullah Baradar and Kabir─were close allies of Pakistan's most important, but often enigmatic, intelligence agency. This agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, was a significant backer of the Afghan Taliban before 9/11.

Two years ago, the Bush administration began exerting heavy pressure on Pakistan to crack down more aggressively the Afghan Taliban and other militant groups known to be sympathetic to Al Qaeda. U.S. officials say they can't explain why the long-sought crackdown seems to have begun now, at long last. One American official suggests that Pakistani authorities may be cracking down because they came to recognize that Taliban and other militants are as threatening to their country's stability as to potential targets of Islamic terrorism overseas. "The Pakistanis recognize the stakes involved. They've worked for years with the United States against a number of terrorist groups. Just think of all the kills and captures on Pakistani soil since 9/11─and they haven't all been Al Qaeda, not by a long shot," the official said, adding: "That's picked up as the Pakistanis have realized even more clearly the threat they themselves face from a host of violent extremists. They've been both cooperative and courageous. No one's ignoring their past with the Taliban, but no one's ignoring these arrests either. They're important. You have to take it one step at a time, with your eyes wide open."

Yet Another Taliban Leader Captured | World